MMA Ratings Podcast

October 12, 2020

UFC Fight Island 5: Will Joaquin Buckley's "Wakanda" Viral KO Turn Him Into A UFC Superstar? Or Will This Just Give Him 15 Minutes Of Fame?

By Adam Martin

On Saturday night at UFC Fight Island 5, middleweight Joaquin Buckley scored one of the most incredible knockouts in UFC history when he KO'd Impa Kasanganay with a spinning back kick to the face. It was a jaw-dropping KO, as Buckley had thrown a left body kick that was caught by Kasanganay, leading to Buckley jump-spinning around in the air and landing a vicious kick right to Kasanganay's dome. Some fans and media are already calling it the best knockout in UFC history. But is it the kind of knockout that can turn Buckley into a superstar in MMA, or just give him 15 minutes of fame?

There's no doubt that this was a special knockout. It's the kind of finish that the UFC will play in its highlight reel packages for years and years to come. It's the kind of knockout that you'll tell your kids one day where you were when it happened. But that doesn't necessarily mean that Buckley will turn into a star from it. As good as this knockout was -- and it was spectacular -- you have to remember that it was just two months ago at UFC Vegas 6 that Buckley himself was on the wrong end of a highlight-reel KO, from Kevin Holland. While the Buckley knockout on Kasangany was amazing, we have to look into its significance.

When you think of some of the other top knockouts in MMA history, usually fans will point to the ones where a title changed hands or there was a massive upset. For instance, Holly Holm's amazing head kick KO over Ronda Rousey at UFC 193. That was a title fight for the UFC women's bantamweight title and Holm took out an undefeated fighter in Rousey who many felt was unbeatable. So the significance of that knockout was much more than a fight on a preliminary card, which is what Buckley vs. Kasanganay was. Yes, the knockout was amazing. But the reality is, it was a fight between mid-tier middleweights.

That's why other knockouts such as Conor McGregor over Jose Aldo, Anderson Silva over Vitor Belfort, or Chris Weidman over Silva will always be rated above the Buckley KO, in my opinion. As MMA fans, we are often conditioned for the "what have you done for me lately" moment, and this Buckley KO is. As soon as the kick landed, you could already hear people proclaiming it one of the best knockouts of all time. It was an amazing knockout for sure, the best of 2020, and I believe we will see highlights of it for decades to come. But ultimately, while it was an incredible KO, I don't think it's enough to make him a star.

To me, the knockout that is most comparable to Buckley vs. Kasanganay was the Edson Barboza's spinning wheel kick KO over Terry Etim at UFC 142. That is still to this day one of the best knockouts of all time. But Barboza, though he's still a great fighter 10 years later, never became a superstar. If Buckley can end up having a career like Barboza has had, he should be very happy with that. And like Barboza, Buckley should be commended for his finish, but there's no guarantee it will be the turning point in his career. It's like the Uriah Hall knockout over Adam Cella on The Ultimate Fighter. An amazing knockout for sure, and Hall has had a solid UFC career, but he never turned into a superstar from it.

I hope I'm wrong about Buckley. By all indications, he seems like a quality fighter and a good guy, and this knockout is going to always be special. But I don't believe this is his Jorge Masvidal vs. Ben Askren moment. I don't believe this is the fight that is going to shoot Buckley into UFC superstar status. What the knockout will do is give him more respect and a very long leash with the UFC. But remember, it wasn't long ago that he was fighting in Bellator and losing fights there. I like Buckley a lot and I like him a lot more after this insane knockout win, but we all need to temper our expectations.

Let's get back to my original question, which was: Will the Buckley KO turn him into a superstar, or will it just provide him with 15 minutes of fame? To me, Buckley's career is going to land somewhere in the middle. No, I do not believe we'll see Buckley become a superstar in the UFC, and I don't think he is going to be a champion. I do believe he is going to win more fights in the UFC over the years, although probably not in this fashion. I may eat my words one day, and I honestly hope I'm wrong, because Buckley seems like a hard-working fighter who is competing for the right reasons. But ultimately, it will be an amazing KO that will be watched by fans for years to come, but I don't see Buckley morphing into a superstar from it.

Now I ask you, the readers: Was Joaquin Buckley's KO at UFC Fight Island 5 over Impa Kasanganay a star-making performance, or will it be the high point of his career?

UFC Fight Night
Joaquin Buckley vs. Impa Kasanganay: Joaquin Buckley def. Impa Kasanganay via KO (jumping head kick) at 2:03 of Round 2.

UFC Fight Night: Moraes vs. Sandhagen took place October 10, 2020 at Flash Forum in Yas Island, Abu Dhabi.

Click HERE for more UFC Fight Night Analysis

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