Joaquin Buckley vs. Nursulton Ruziboev prediction, pick, start time, odds for UFC on ESPN 56

Joaquin Buckley and Nursulton Ruziboev meet Saturday in the co-feature bout of UFC on ESPN 56 from Enterprise Center in St. Louis. Check out this quick breakdown of the matchup from MMA Junkie analyst Dan Tom.  

Joaquin Buckley vs. Nursulton Ruziboev UFC on ESPN 56 preview

Buckley (18-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC) and Ruziboev (34-8-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) clash in this welterweight co-feature between competitors with middleweight backgrounds. … Buckley has been on a tear since moving down to the welterweight division last year. He has won three straight, including a head kick knockout of Andre Fialho, a unanimous decision over Alex Morono, and a big ground and pound finish of Vicente Luque. … Ruziboev is still new to the UFC, but has stopped both opponents he’s faced at 185 pounds. This fight will be his first at 170 pounds in the UFC, looking to extends his winning streak to three.

Joaquin Buckley vs. Nursulton Ruziboev expert pick, prediction

The co-main event in St. Louis features an impromptu welterweight showdown between Buckley and Ruziboev.

Despite fighting at middleweight for his first two UFC appearances, Ruziboev will be dropping down a division on short notice to take a shot at ranked opposition in Buckley.

Ruziboev hasn’t made 170 pounds since 2021, so it will be interesting to see how the weight cut will affect the 30-year-old Uzbek, given his insanely tall frame.

As seen in the southpaw report above, Ruziboev also hasn’t faced a southpaw since roughly 2017, but shows the tools to replicate the success that both Kevin Holland and Alessio Di Chirico had against Buckely. That said, I ultimately have a hard time picking against Buckley in this spot.

Aside from fighting in front of his hometown crowd, Buckley also has more experience when it comes to fighting higher-level opposition on short notice.

Add in the obvious intangibles of Ruziboev’s weight cut, and I’ll officially side with Buckley to find a finish on his diminished foe by round 3.

Joaquin Buckley vs. Nursulton Ruziboev odds

The oddsmakers and the public are slightly favoring the American, listing Buckley (-134) and Ruziboev (+110) via FanDuel. Buckley has been a favorite in four consecutive fights, going 3-1 in that stretch. Ruziboev was a near 2:1 underdog in his UFC debut, and flipped the odds in his second appearance. He won both fights by stoppage.

Joaquin Buckley vs. Nursulton Ruziboev start time, how to watch

As the co-main event, Buckley and Ruziboev are expected to make their walk to the octagon around 9:40 p.m. ET (6:40 p.m. PT). The fight broadcasts live on ESPN and streams on ESPN+.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 56.

For more detailed analysis from Dan Tom, check out his weekly show, “The Protect Ya’ Neck Podcast.”

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie