Joaquin Buckley celebrates after his KO victory against Impa Kasanganay (Zuffa LLC)

Joaquin “New Mansa” Buckley, 29, is making a move back down to welterweight (170 lbs) following back-to-back losses to ranked middleweights (185 lbs). In the UFC, Buckley is 5-4 with 4 knockout wins and 3 knockout losses.

He also has one of the most impressive and gravity-defying knockouts with a jumping spinning back kick that will immortalize him in the minds of many UFC fans. If you haven’t seen it, check it out right here.

“One Kick Changed Joaquin Buckley’s Life”

Andre Fialho wasted no time getting into the cage once he made his debut. Fialho debuted with a decision loss and then fought another 4 times in 2022. His UFC record is 2-3 with both wins by knockout and 1 loss the same way.

Buckley vs. Fialho is a main card bout on this Saturday night’s UFC Fight Night 224 fight card and will air exclusively on ESPN+.

And remember, if you’re looking to place a bet on the fights this weekend, click here to sign up to BetUS using our special link and you’ll get a sign-up bonus worth up to $2,500.

Betting Odds

Buckley opened as a short favorite and was quickly bet up to over a 2:1 favorite in this fight.

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Fight Breakdown

Buckley is a bricked-up kickboxer with explosive power and underrated wrestling. He fights from a southpaw stance and uses his powerful kicks at range and looping power punches in the pocket. His whole game is centered around having the edge in speed, power, and athleticism.

At his best, Buckley mixes in his wrestling with his striking so that his opponents have to worry about all three levels: legs, hips, and head. He averages 1.23 takedown attempts per fight, at only a 30% clip; but, more importantly, when Buckley gets his opponent thinking about the takedown, they become more stationary and lower their hands. If he faces a stationary and exposed target, Buckley often find the off-switch on his opponent. That is Buckley at his best; which, until now, is not the Buckley we always see.

More commonly, Buckley fights in big movement burst with long bouts of inactivity intermittently throughout the round. Because his movements and striking are typically big energy-draining movements and strikes, Buckley tends to fight with low volume and can lose rounds to fighters with more output. Moreover, as he tires, Buckley’s wrestling becomes more labored and less successful.

Just like Buckley, Fialho has big power and concerningly low output. Unlike Buckley, Fialho tends to fight slowly with a plotting style similar to fighters in the heavyweight division, like Ben Rothwell. His footwork is technical but he tends to move like he’s stepping in potholes- slowly and dense. This leaves him susceptible to leg kicks as so much of his weight is on his front leg.

Beyond his slow style, Fialho also tends to wait for the perfect opening to unload combinations rather than jabbing or feinting to create those openings. This combination of slow movement and minimal setup shots has resulted in a negative 2:1 striking ratio, meaning he is hit twice as often as he gets hit. When he does land, though, Fialho can shut the lights out quickly.

He has better-than-average hand speed, lands the right strike in the right spot, and lands with real umph. He also tends to remain steady for all 15 minutes, rarely gassing out or overcommitting to a single round.

His main issues come against fighters with more speed and volume. However, given he’s lost back to back fights via knockout, it is possible that his chin is starting to give as well. That’s a dangerous thing to lose when a fighter has a negative 2:1 striking ratio against fighters with real power.

Fialho vs. Buckley Prediction

The key in this fight is the scale. How will Buckley look at 170? He used to fight at welterweight but he carries a lot of extra mass and the cut down might hurt his cardio and chin.

But, if it’s a clean cut and he can maintain energy, then the man with huge power at 185 will likely carry even more power down a weight class. Since we won’t see Buckley on the scales for a few days, I have to treat the move back down as a neutral variable.

So, aside from the weight cut, this fight likely comes down to which fighter connects first. Both have fight-ending power and both have shaky chins, that spells K.O. more times than not. Yes, Buckley could wrestle but Fialho has decent takedown defense, so I expect a fan-friendly brawl until someone drops. In that fight, I side with the faster and more explosive athlete to be able to land first.

Best Bet: Buckley by KO (+110 odds at BetUS)

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Who do you think wins this one at UFC Fight Night 224? Let us know in the comments section below.

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