3 potential next opponents for Joaquin Buckley

Here are three men we think Joaquin Buckley should fight next.
Sep 3, 2022; Paris, FRANCE; Joaquin Buckley (blue gloves) during his fight against Nassourdine
Sep 3, 2022; Paris, FRANCE; Joaquin Buckley (blue gloves) during his fight against Nassourdine / Per Haljestam-USA TODAY Sports
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Joaquin Buckley (19-6) came through in his home city by defeating Nursulton Ruziboev (34-9-2) in the UFC St. Louis co-main event. Buckley campaigned for the opportunity to perform in front of his city and made the most of his opportunity against a seasoned opponent.

Buckley wasted no time calling out Conor McGregor in his post-fight interview with UFC commentator Michael Bisping saying, "Conor McGregor, I want you! You fightin' at 170, but you ain't fightin' a welterweight...Come and bully me and let's see what you really about."

While Buckley acknowledged the unlikelihood of being granted a McGregor matchup shortly after in his post-fight press conference laughing, "Definitely not gonna get that," there are still numerous welterweight opponents that make sense for Buckley. He is currently ranked No. 11 in the division and rides a four-fight win streak after moving down from middleweight.

Buckley asserted, "It's my time now," in his UFC post-show appearance. He has enough momentum and talent to make good on that statement and move toward being a legitimate top welterweight contender.

1. Gilbert Burns

Gilbert Burns (22-7) is the No. 6 ranked welterweight and one of the biggest tests for any fighter in the whole division. His elite grappling and willingness to take on any challenge make him a UFC mainstay. Unfortunately however for Burns, he was stopped in his last fight at UFC 299 against Jack Della Maddalena. This result likely forces him to step back in the division and provides Buckley with the perfect entry for a potential matchup.

Burns was on the tip of Buckley's tongue at his post-fight press conference after he budged from his McGregor callout. He said, "Gilbert Burns, I think is a beautiful fight." If this fight comes to fruition, it would be one of Buckley's biggest tests.

Buckley has never faced someone as seasoned and well-ranked as Burns. This would be the most high-profile matchup of Buckley's career so far. Buckley is only 30 years old compared to Burns at 37, so youth is on Buckley's side against the veteran. Burns is also on a two-fight losing skid, so it is only right for him to fight backward in the rankings.

Burns will hold a significant grappling edge, but Buckley has improved his game in this regard and his power could displace Burns in the standup exchanges. This fight's result could clarify the seemingly perpetually log-jammed welterweight division and be a good showcase for both competitors.