Joaquin Buckley explains why unexpected performance bonus at UFC on ESPN 37 had a larger meaning

The UFC typically hands out a select number of bonuses to the top performances after every card, but the recent rare deviation from the norm was a welcome surprise to middleweight Joaquin Buckley.

“New Mansa” entered UFC on ESPN 37 looking for his third straight victory, but standing in the way was a strong wrestler in Albert Duraev who also happened to be a former training partner. Buckley, who created one of the most spectacular knockouts in the history of the sport in 2020, always hunts for the extra $50,000 bonus in his fights. So far, he has cashed four of those extra checks.

However, the one he earned for his win against Duraev was unexpected because the TKO stoppage wasn’t a result of another flashy spinning kick, but rather the accumulation of damage and a doctor’s stoppage due to swelling of Duraev’s eye.

UFC president Dana White was in a generous mood that night in Austin, Texas, and decided to issue bonuses to every fighter who won by stoppage, including Buckley, whose stoppage was a bit anti-climatic. Buckley previously felt he wasn’t on the best of terms with the promotion based on things he did or said in the past, but thinks gesture showed him otherwise.

“I was extremely blessed,” Buckley told MMA Junkie. “I don’t really want to talk about it, but like everybody seen that I wasn’t being posted after my win. So, I feel like the things that I said in my past interviews, unfortunately, put me in a bad situation with the promotion. But now, I might be in a better light with them, because they can see that no matter who they put me up against, I’m always gonna be exciting and I’m always gonna come to bring the fight.

I just want to say I’m appreciative of Dana just looking at me and seeing that I’m the fighter that I say I am and rewarded me the performance bonus because he didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to do that at all.”

It’s unclear exactly what actions Buckley may have done that gave him the idea that things with the UFC weren’t on the best of terms, and apparently, he’s not sure either. While he doesn’t regret anything he’s said or done behind the scenes, he now knows it’s for the best to be more aware of how he comes off.

“It’s not regrets, it’s just how you say things and what you do,” Buckley said. “It’s not what I said, but it’s how I said it that I think kinda rubbed whoever I rubbed wrong, you know what I’m saying? My thing is, I just have to realize my place and my position in this game, and I don’t mind doing that. I’m just trying to fight and make money, that’s it.”

With three wins in a row, including two bonus-winning stoppages of his opponents, the 28-year-old Buckley is preparing for whatever comes his way next. Whether it be a short notice call or a proper matchup with a full training camp, Buckley says he’ll be ready to put on another show.