American fighter returns to the scene of his award-winning knockout and vows to make some noise in Abu Dhabi
Joaquin Buckley cannot wait to get in the Fight Island Octagon when he returns to his “second home” for the opening night of the historic UFC Fight Island Triple Header at Etihad Arena, on Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island on Saturday night – the first UFC event to welcome fans since the beginning of the pandemic.
Buckley took the world by storm in his last Fight Island appearance on October 10 with a spinning kick to knockout Impa Kasanganay in the second round of their middleweight bout.
It was a moment that won him performance of the night, overnight social media fame – with the clip viewed millions of times – and worldwide recognition. It also won him the UFC Knockout of the Year Award, which was presented to Buckley on his return to Fight Island.
Now the man they call the ‘New Mansa’ is back in Abu Dhabi ready for his UFC Fight Island Triple Header bout against Alessio Di Chirico in UFC FIGHT NIGHT: HOLLOWAY vs. KATTAR at the Etihad Arena. And he is promising another special performance for fans inside the all-new Etihad Arena, the new international home of UFC and latest world-class entertainment venue in Abu Dhabi.
“Fighting in Abu Dhabi is really cool, awesome, I feel like it’s going to be a second home for me, and I plan on staying undefeated on Fight Island,” said Buckley. “I feel blessed with what I achieved last time and to pick up the UFC knockout of the year. A lot of people will be looking at that move for a very long time.
“We’re definitely going to have something special in store for fans this time, come fight time. I think it’s going to be awesome to have fans back, to thrive off that energy and that is what I love about the audience; when they are out there, cheering our names. There is going to be some nice highlights for you all.
“We are making history, it’s going to be lit. Let’s make some noise.”
Another man looking forward to making his return to Fight Island is Dusko Todorovic. The Serbian middleweight was impressive in his October Fight Island win over Dequan Townsend and will be looking to make it 11 straight wins when he faces Punahele Soriano on Saturday night in front of spectators in Etihad Arena.
“It feels great to be back on Fight Island. I was delighted when I was told the event would be happening on Yas Island again. I’m enjoying the process, it has been great for me,” said Todorovic.
Todorovic praised the work of Abu Dhabi and UFC to bring fans back into live events, incorporating a carefully created spectator journey including showing negative PCR test results, thermal scanning, social distancing and the ability to order F&B direct to their seats inside the venue, as well as mandatory mask wearing.
“It’s great to have fans back live in the arena, a step in the right direction. I know that Abu Dhabi and UFC have done everything to keep us all safe. I can’t wait for Saturday night,” he said, adding that he will know a few faces in the history-making crowd.
“There will be a couple of friends I know from Abu Dhabi who have got their tickets. It would be great to have someone close to me in attendance in the future in the arena on Fight Island.
Meanwhile, main event man Calvin Kattar faces a showdown with the lightweight division’s former champion Max Holloway in the headline bout. And Kattar, who has Lebanese heritage, is eager to put on a show for his fans from the region.
“It’s great. I’m excited for the people to try to come back to a sense of normalcy and get out of the house. 2020 has been tough so this is a great chance to see a live event and see some great fights,” said the No.6 ranked Kattar.
“I’m 25% Lebanese so it will be nice to put on a good performance. There’s already a bunch of fighters (in this part of the world), we’ve just got to channel it the right way and hopefully one day if you put the work in then you get the chances that I got.”
Opponent Holloway pointed to the “exciting times” ahead this weekend as they become the first headline act in the new arena.
“I’ve got a lot of records, but there are more records that I want and the ones I have I want to make them untouchable, that’s the goal for me starting with Saturday,” said Holloway. “I’m not leaving it to the judges, I’m going out there for the win.”
“The history we’re making is great. We’ve got a new arena, fans return, national TV in the US. It’s going to be great.”