Congratulations Joaquin Buckley, you’ve just etched your name in the UFC record books, joining the greats like Anderson Silva, Jorge Masvidal, Lyoto Machida, and Rashad Evans. Soon, your spinning heel kick finish at Fight Night 179 will be played and replayed on every UFC highlight reel from now through eternity.
A relative unknown with an 0-1 record inside the Octagon heading into Saturday’s event on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, Buckley cemented his place on the UFC roster with a stunning and utterly insane second-round knockout of middleweight Impa Kasanganay. The KO, an instant frontrunner for Knockout of the Year, earned Buckley a sweet $50,000 check from UFC boss Dana White, along with a bevy of accolades from the media and general public.
Many are immediately stating that Buckley’s finish is in fact the greatest knockout in UFC history.
Running through the fight ending sequence, Buckley, in southpaw stance, threw a high kick at Kasanganay’s head, only for the strike to be blocked. With his right hand still in a defensive position, Kasanganay was able to catch Buckley’s ankle, seemingly controlling the position, but what Buckley, who’s nicknamed “New Mansa,” did next has never been done by a fighter in the Octagon, ever.
He used the momentum shift to jump in the air, spin his body around, near 360-degrees, eventually landing a heel and the sole of his foot straight to Kasanganay’s face mid-jump. The violent, perfect, and picturesque strike instantly removed Kasanganay from his senses, causing his stiff body to slowly drop to the canvas. Buckley walked off in celebration.
Sure, hyperbole gets thrown around in the fight game like it’s going out of style. We always hear about the greatest and best fights, knockouts, and submissions, often to the point of exhaustion. But Buckley’s KO deserves all the praise it’s been receiving. And while he might not yet have a name like Silva or Masvidal, his performance set a new bar for the limits of human combat and MMA.
Following the fight, Buckley one-upped himself, calling out Khamzat Chimaev, the UFC’s latest flavor of the week who’s become a big smash this summer on account of a trio of finishes.
With the entire UFC roster seemingly afraid to meet Chimaev inside the Octagon, Buckley took to Twitter to demand a date with the Chechen fighter at UFC 254, which goes down on Oct. 24 at Fight Island.
Whether or not the callout of Chimaev was a smart move – by all accounts Chimaev is as good as the hype behind him suggests, not just on the ground, but also on his feet where he’s shown some heavy hands – Buckley is trying to keep him momentum going and extend his stay in Abu Dhabi, where his stock is at an all-time high.
And, just to further hammer home the point at how much this knockout raises Buckley’s profile, let’s point out that his highlight-reel finish wasn’t even the only spinning kick KO on the card, but it’s the one that everyone is calling the greatest knockout in history.
A few hours later, headliner Cory Sandhagen finished top-ranked bantamweight Marlon Moraes with a spinning heel kick of his own. And, while Sandhagen’s finish was impressive and also earned him a cool 50Gs from Dana White, it didn’t quite have the cache and pizzazz of Buckley’s all-time knockout. There are levels to this highlight reel stuff, and Buckley is now at the head of the class.
Meanwhile, over in Poland, veteran middleweight Mahmed Khalidov delivered a pretty rad knockout of his own. Unfortunately, he fights in the KSW promotion, which almost no one in the U.S. has ever heard of.
Fighting UFC veteran Scott Askham in the KSW 55 main event, Khalidov did the unthinkable, lunging forward, pulling off a jumping switch kick that landed flush on Askham’s left temple.
Occurring hours before Buckley’s No. 1 stunner, Khalidov’s spectacular achievement was quickly overshadowed.
Overall, it was a great day for highlight reel finishes in mixed martial arts. It’s exactly the type of action that converts some of those MMA casuals into diehard fight fans. Let’s see what happens next week in the Octagon.