Special to Sports News Highlights

(SNH) — UFC welterweight Joaquin Buckley (18-6 MMA, 8-4 UFC) finally got his wish.

UFC CEO Dana White made a surprising announcement revealing that Buckley, who had just pulled off a stunning upset win against the formidable Vicente Luque in March, would be taking a co-main event slot against Nursulton Ruziboev (34-8-2 MMA, 2-0 UFC) at UFC St. Louis May 11.

The bout was a late addition to the card, as the event is two weeks away. It is part of four weeks of consecutive UFC events, beginning with UFC Vegas 91 Saturday in Las Vegas.

Buckley had been asking for a fight since his in-Octagon post-fight interview in New Jersey, knowing full well that St. Louis, his hometown, was part of the UFC’s future travel schedule.

White, the promotion’s mainstay since 2001, was quick to hype up the fight on social media.

“Buckley is athletic and powerful, with six of his eight [UFC] wins coming by finish, including some of the nastiest head-kick knockouts you will ever see,” White said. “Also, Buckley has been showing up everywhere and doing everything [to get a fight], including jumping on the mic at the UFC 300 press conference and asking me to get him a fight against anyone so he can fight in his hometown of St. Louis.

White said he rewards fighters who go above and beyond to ask for fights they feel they have earned, which, in this instance, White said Buckley did

Despite Ruziboev’s lack of UFC experience—he has competed in the promotion for less than a year—his MMA experience is way more extensive than Buckley’s. Before getting signed to the UFC, Ruziboev won eight straight fights from Jan. 2021 to April 2022 and has only seen the judges’ scorecards eight times since 2015, making him a proven finisher.

Buckley and Ruziboev are part of a 13-fight card from the Enterprise Center, home of the NHL’s St. Louis Blues. It is a rare occasion, marking the UFC’s first trip to St. Louis since Jan. 2018.

Buckley is ranked No. 11 at welterweight and has been 3-0 since his transition into the weight class. As of April 25, the entire bout order is below, with the prelims beginning at 4 p.m., followed by the main card at 7 p.m. The card is subject to change.

Main card
• Heavyweight: Derrick Lewis vs. Rodrigo Nascimento
• Welterweight: Joaquin Buckley vs. Nursulton Ruziboev
• Flyweight: Charles Johnson vs. Jake Hadley
• Lightweight: Terrance McKinney vs. Esteban Ribovics
• Light heavyweight: Alonzo Menifield vs. Carlos Ulberg
• Women’s strawweight: Tabatha Ricci vs. Tecia Penington
• Featherweight: Alex Caceres vs. Sean Woodson

Prelims
• Welterweight: Jared Gooden vs. Kevin Jousset
• Lightweight: Chase Hooper vs. Viacheslav Borshchev
• Welterweight: Billy Goff vs. Trey Waters
• Heavyweight: Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Robelis Despaigne
• Women’s flyweight: JJ Aldrich vs. Veronica Hardy
• Lightweight: Diego Ferreira vs. Mateusz Rebecki

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