As Joaquin Buckley exited the Octagon on Oct. 10, the UFC middleweight had no idea what he had just accomplished. Not until he ran into a security guard in the Flash Forum in Abu Dhabi did Buckley get some idea of the magnitude of the moment.
"I got out of the cage, and everybody -- I'm talking to the security -- was like, 'What the f---? What the hell did I just watch?'" Buckley said. "That's when I realized what I did was like a big deal."
But he couldn't have known how big his second-round knockout of Impa Kasanganay would become. The UFC tweet with the video was the most-liked (359,000), most-retweeted (143,000) and most-viewed (12.8 million) tweet in UFC history. The KO fueled the UFC's most-watched Instagram video ever with 17.8 million views. And across three tweets, three Instagram posts, four Facebook posts and a TikTok, the Buckley knockout video has generated more than 65 million views and 83 million impressions for the UFC.
"Basically, in my opinion, he's made himself immortal," Buckley's cornerman Micheal Gillmore said. "That knockout, for as long as the UFC is around -- which I imagine will be for the rest of time -- that particular kick and knockout will always be in consideration for one of the top, if not the top, knockout."
What made it so unusual? Kasanganay caught Buckley's left kick, but he held the leg too long. Buckley used that as leverage as he spun and let loose a wicked back kick with his right leg. It caught Kasanganay flush on the jaw and Kasanganay was out on his feet, falling slowly like a tree cut down in the forest.
Millions of people have seen the knockout, and Kanye West even wrote a track and released a video on Twitter about it. ESPN talked to several people who were there and had a unique perspective of the historic moment and its immediate aftermath. As Buckley prepares for his encore bout Saturday against Jordan Wright in Las Vegas, here are what people recall about the night he made history.
At 1:10 of the first round, Buckley, a southpaw, landed a left kick to Kasanganay's right leg. Kasanganay caught the kick after impact. The same thing happened at 1:50 of the first round, with Kasanganay holding onto the Buckley kick a little longer.
Buckley: In the first round, Impa had grabbed my foot twice. The second time when he grabbed it, he had a good grip and he turned me all the way. I had the opportunity to do [the kick]. I was already thinking about it. But it was too late. I was like, all right, if he does that again, I have the ability to capitalize on that and take the opportunity and make it happen.
Paul Felder, UFC lightweight and TV analyst: I knew Impa was catching his kicks. He was catching them and swiping them to the side, which is a classic technique. You catch the kick and move your opponent to the side. But you can't hold onto it. We started to catch onto that a little bit [on commentary].
Kasanganay: I remember in the fight I caught a couple of kicks. But I didn't do too much action off of them. The first one, I tried to sweep him, take his feet out. The other one I caught, but there wasn't much to do except disengage. I could have done better. I have to do a little bit more off those kicks. The reason you catch the kick is, one, you don't take the full damage of the kick; two, you can counter from it and put yourself in a better position to score.