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Joaquin Buckley: Vicente Luque quit at UFC Atlantic City, ‘didn’t want to be in there in the first place’

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Joaquin Buckley believes he beat Vicente Luque before they even stepped in the cage together.

On Saturday night, Buckley scored the biggest win of his career, finishing Luque in the second round at UFC Atlantic City. The win was Buckley’s third in a row at welterweight and will almost certainly move him into the UFC’s divisional rankings.

Speaking on Monday’s episode of The MMA Hour, Buckley said he knew he was going to win before the first punch was even thrown.

“I feel like Vicente just quit in there — point blank, period,” Buckley said. “He quit. He didn’t want to be in there in the first place. Before the fight started, he didn’t want to be in there. When you’re a fighter, you can just sense those things. It’s hard to explain. You’ve got to get in there and find out.

“I knew it the moment I saw him. The moment I saw him at weigh-ins, I knew it.”

For the first nine fights of his UFC career, Buckley competed at middleweight. Since returning to 170 pounds this past year, “New Mansa” is 3-0 and inching toward becoming a legitimate title threat.

When asked what’s changed for the 29-year-old to put him on such a good run, he said it’s simply a matter of fighting in his proper weight class.

“I feel like the difference for me and who I am is, now I’m fighting in the weight class I should have been fighting in for the longest time,” Buckley said. “It’s still me. It’s still the same old guy, but I feel like for me, getting success and being able to really showcase my talent and my skill set truthfully — I think people think there’s a difference, but it’s really not. I wasn’t fighting in the appropriate weight class for myself at 185.”

Buckley added that part of the reason he moved to middleweight in the first place was that he struggled to find fights at 170 pounds. Now that he’s a going concern at welterweight, he won’t have that issue, and he hopes to have his next one lined up soon.

After the win, Buckley called to headline the upcoming UFC St. Louis card, which takes place May 11. The card is currently headlined by a heavyweight fight between Derrick Lewis and Rodrigo Nascimento, but Buckley believes he has a chance to take that top spot with the right opponent.

“That’s just a feeling that I have,” Buckley said. “If I’m able to fight in St. Louis, I want to make it worth it. I want to come back and put on a show at the highest level, which would be a main event. Instead of just being a part of the show, I would be the show. I’d be the reason why everybody is coming to the event. It’s just a feeling.”

And as far as opponents go, Buckley is not too particular. He declined to call out anyone specifically, but said he was open to a matchup with Luque’s teammate at Kill Cliff FC, Gilbert Burns. As he noted, he has plenty of history with Kill Cliff fighters and Burns, who is currently the No. 6 welterweight in the UFC rankings.

“I actually love the idea of Gilbert Burns,” Buckley said. “Right now we’re 3-1 against that team. The first guy that beat me from that team was Logan Storley back in Bellator. He held me down for 15 [minutes]. After that I knocked out Impa Kasanganay, Andre Fialho, and now their boy Vicente. So now I’m 3-1 with them.”

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