This is one of the most interesting fights on the card to us for a lot of reasons. Joaquin Buckley has catapulted himself into UFC stardom, finishing Impa Kasanganay with what was named the 2020 knockout of the year, and will probably be remembered as the knockout of the century.
Buckley will be favored for the second time in his UFC career, quite heavily at -260, the first time was a similar billing in his last fight, a second-round knockout of Jordan Wright. Buckley possesses a 76” reach, giving him a two-inch advantage in that department in this fight. He is 12-3 as a professional with seven wins by KO/TKO.
Alessio di Chirico holds a similar record at 12-5, but has lost each of his last three fights, with his last win coming by split decision over Julian Marquez on the TUF 27 finale. He has three career wins by KO/TKO and four wins by submission.
One of the things that stands out most about Buckley are his boxing fundamentals. He holds a very high guard and is very good at protecting his chin. He has excellent footwork, manages range effectively, even when moving forward, and is patient and selective in his striking. He’s a constantly moving target, has great head movement and sets up his counters with defensive positioning.
Buckley attacks in bursts and has very quick and powerful boxing combos. Often times, he’s looking finish his combinations with kicks to the body. He attacks the head and body equally once he gets inside but, because he throws short power hooks, he usually has to be inside to do damage and struggles to land his shots against longer and more athletic strikers.
At times, Buckley’s movement can be a bit predictable, but only truly advanced strikers, like Kevin Holland, have shown the ability to truly take advantage of this tendency. Buckley hasn’t spent much time on the ground in his career, but what grappling he has shown doesn’t inspire much confidence. The last time he was forced to fight on the canvas, he lost a unanimous decision to Logan Storley.
Storley is an excellent wrestler, but in that fight, Buckley was taken down with ease and controlled for pretty much the entirety of all three rounds. He isn’t a highly educated wrestler or roller, and he relies on his leg strength to get back to his feet, and has to give his back to get there.
Di Chirico is a fairly basic and planted boxer. He is looking to walk down his opponents and land his right overhand. He doesn’t throw many strikes but he throws every strike with intention. He throws nasty counter right hooks and times his counters well.
He’s looking to cause car crashes and trade shots in the pocket. He does mix in kicks from the outside but they aren’t very effective. Defensively, he holds a wide guard and tends to take a lot of damage. His head movement and footwork aren’t great, and Joaquin Buckley will likely be leading the action in this fight.
Di Chirico has good movement and pace, but does not land at a high percentage. Because he throws so much into every shot, he leaves himself open to counters against more advanced strikers. Buckley has excellent head movement and sets up his counters by angling off and swinging outside his opponents’ guards so, stylistically, this fight is all Buckley.
Both of these guys absolutely swing for the fences. Di Chirico has never been knocked out, but he has never faced and opponent with the type of power that Buckley possesses. Though I believe he’s overpriced, Buckley is a safe favorite and a good parlay piece at -265. He will likely finish this fight.