Joaquin Buckley poses with the UFC Knockout of the Year Award, which was presented to him on his return to Fight Island.
Gulf Today, Staff Reporter
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.
The first event of the year takes place on Jan.16, and will be headlined by a fan favourite featherweight bout between No.1 ranked Max Holloway and No.6 Calvin Kattar.
On Jan.20, Michael Chiesa will take on Neil Magny in a highly anticipated welterweight main event. Both Chiesa and Magny are coming off three consecutive wins and will be looking to continue this win streak on Fight Island.
Finally, closing out UFC FIGHT ISLAND Triple Header will be UFC 257, which will see the return of Conor McGregor in a rematch against Dustin Poirier.
Buckley took the world by storm in his last Fight Island appearance on Oct.10, 2020, 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.
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.
Meanwhile, main event man Kattar faces a showdown with the lightweight division’s former champion 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.
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