Joaquin Buckley: UFC on ESPN 54 win over Vicente Luque puts me ‘en route to become a world champion’

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. – Joaquin Buckley has been patiently waiting for an opportunity like the one that comes his way Saturday at UFC on ESPN 54.

Since his August 2020 promotional debut, Buckley (18-6 MMA, 7-4 UFC) has been grinding away in the octagon. His run includes one of the most spectacular highlights in UFC history with his spinning back kick finish of Impa Kasanganay, but he’s had a handful of disappointing defeats, as well.

After going 2-0 since dropping to the welterweight division, Buckley gets a chance to change his career trajectory when he takes on perennial contender Vicente Luque (22-9-1 MMA, 15-5 UFC) in the co-main event at Boardwalk Hall (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN+).

“This is something I’ve been asking for and shouting about on social media for a long time,” Buckley told MMA Junkie at Wednesday’s media day. “To get that big name, to get somebody that I feel like is going to really get the respect it deserves with all the work I’ve put in. So now that I’m getting a fight that I asked for, it’s a beautiful situation.

“I’m appreciative of Vicente Luque actually taking on the challenge. Because at the end of the day, no matter if I want to fight him or if the UFC wants to book it, the opponent of mine has to take the fight and I’m just appreciative of Vicente Luque taking this fight.”

Luque, No. 14 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie welterweight rankings, has shared the cage with many of the best in the weight class and holds wins over former UFC champs Rafael dos Anjos and Tyron Woodley, and noted BKFC standout Mike Perry, among others.

Buckley, 29, has never beaten someone with the credentials of Luque, 32, and he already has visions of everything that would come with this victory.

“The biggest thing is I know what position it’s going to put me in as far as the status of the UFC,” Buckley said. “It puts me in the rankings and get put on route to become a world champion. I feel like I can do so much more with my career as a fighter and can come home to St. Louis and put on.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC on ESPN 54.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie