Joaquin Buckley believes Stephen Thompson won’t participate at UFC 296 to fight Shavkat Rakhmanov. Although “New Mansa” expressed admiration for Thompson, he recalled the time when the fighter refused to fight Rakhmanov. With this, Buckley thinks the No. 6-ranked welterweight fighter would do it again by providing an “odd” reason.

According to Buckley, the only reason Thompson would fight the Kazakh opponent is the push of UFC, which he believes offered the ranked fighter a good deal. Yet, he also thinks his fellow American won’t be able to take the pressure, advising fans to wait for the fighters’ withdrawal as the UFC 296 date nears.

“Fighters know fighters, man,” Buckley told Middle Easy. “To be honest with you, ‘Wonderboy’ for the longest time didn’t want to fight Shavkat, and I’m guessing the UFC gave him a good little bag in order to get up in there.

“Regardless, this sport is all mental, so for some reason, I’m throwing up a little lob. I don’t think ‘Wonderboy’ is going to be able to make it to that cage for whatever odd reason, so let’s get ready.”

With this, Buckley openly volunteered himself as a replacement for Buckley in case he’s right about his prediction.

“For Dec. 16, I could definitely do that – easy work,” Buckley said. “We looking at Shavkat and ‘Wonderboy’ fight. I mean no disrespect to ‘Wonderboy.’ He’s always been a tough guy and always willing to take a fight, but for some reason, it’s telling me he ain’t going to show up to that. Something tells me that ‘Wonderboy’ ain’t going to show up to that one, so let’s get ready.”

Wonderboy will be coming from his last TKO success against Kevin Holland in December 2022. If Thompson really backs out and Buckley finds himself in that position, he will be facing the dangerous Nomad, who just won his last fight via submission against Geoff Neil in March. Aside from this recent success, Rakhmanov also has a clean slate, translating to his current five-fight winning streak.

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