Two middleweight bouts have been added to the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s UFC Fight Night 184”>Jan. 16 lineup, as Joaquin Buckley will meet Alessio Di Chirico, while Phil Hawes will face Nassourdine Imavov.
MMAjunkie.com was first to report Buckley vs. Di Chirico, while MMA DNA initially brought word of Hawes vs. Imavov. The event takes place on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and is headlined by a featherweight clash pitting Max Holloway against Calvin Kattar. At least a portion of the event is expected to be broadcast on ABC.
After being stopped by Kevin Holland in his Octagon debut, Buckley emerged as one of 2020’s breakout fighters thanks to back-to-back knockouts of Impa Kasanganay and Jordan Wright. The KO of Kasanganay went viral and will likely end up on many year-end lists when all is said and done. “New Mansa” is 12-3 over the course of a career that also includes stints in Legacy Fighting Alliance and Bellator MMA.
Italy’s Di Chirico enters the matchup with Buckley hoping to stop a three-bout losing streak within the Las Vegas-based promotion. In his lone appearance of 2020, the 31-year-old suffered a unanimous decision loss to Zak Cummings at UFC Fight Night 175. Prior to that, “Manzo” dropped decisions to Makhmud Muradov and Holland in 2019. He is 3-5 in the Octagon and 12-5 as a professional overall.
Hawes earned a UFC contract with a 78-second TKO of Khadzhimurat Bestaev on Dana White’s Contender Series this past August before scoring an 18-second KO of Jacob Malkoun in his promotional debut at UFC 254. That gives the 31-year-old Sanford MMA representative a five-fight winning streak heading into his sophomore Octagon appearance.
Imavov was also successful in his first promotional foray, as he outpointed Jordan Williams at UFC on ESPN 16. The 25-year-old MMA Factory product has been victorious in his last six professional outings.