It wasn’t the fight many expected, but Joaquin Buckley still got the job done with his split decision victory over Abdul Razak Alhassan to open the main card at UFC Vegas 48.
Buckley showed off his striking acumen, but it was his ability to mix in a few takedowns and really put the pressure on Alhassan that allowed him to sway the judges to ultimately secure the victory. Two judges gave Buckley the win with 29-28 scores, while the third official gave Alhassan an opposing 29-28 scorecard after three hard fought rounds.
That was enough for Buckely, as he celebrated with viral self-defense guru Commander Dale Brown in his corner for the fight.
“I knew exactly what to expect,” Buckley said. “I made sure that all the eyes. I got my man Dale, I brought him in to help me promote this fight. That was a f*cking war right there. I just plan on getting better.”
Buckley was active from the start of the fight, moving in and out with his strikes while making sure to stay out of range of Alhassan’s considerable power. Buckley also managed to mix in a couple of takedowns during the first round, which kept Alhassan off balance as he attempted to find an opening for his biggest punches.
That was a smart move because every time Alhassan was able to load up on his punches, he was headhunting, with several shots coming close to connecting flush with Buckley’s chin.
As the action moved into the second round, Buckley still mixed things together with his grappling and Alhassan appeared to be losing steam, resigning himself to backing up towards the cage. That allowed Buckley to pick and choose his shots for better accuracy, although he still had to be careful whenever Alhassan decided to explode forward.
Buckley’s decision to wrestle was a big part of his game plan, but Alhassan finally began to counter in the third round as he reversed positions, which allowed him to rain down shots from the top. Alhassan started applying heavy pressure as Buckley shifted into survival mode, but Buckley ultimately held on to survive until the final horn.
The result was razor close, however Buckley did enough through the first two rounds to ensure he left Las Vegas with a 4-1 record in his past five UFC fights.