Vicente Luque won 12 of his past 14 UFC bouts, and he would love a chance to avenge one the two defeats he suffered over the past six years.
“The Silent Assassin” has produced some of the most exciting battles in the welterweight division over the past few years, scoring big wins over the likes of Mike Perry, Niko Price (twice), Randy Brown and Belal Muhammad. Leon Edwards, who gave him a decision loss back in March 2017, is his ideal target for 2021.
Speaking with MMA Fighting prior to his UFC 260 clash with Tyron Woodley, which goes down Saturday night at the UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Luque said he’s not looking past “The Chosen One,” but he expects a win over such popular name to “guarantee me a fight in the top-five.”
“Leon Edwards has defeated me, and he’s a great fighter,” Luque said. “He put on an incredible winning streak together since then, and I think that would be a great rematch. I want a rematch with [Stephen] Thompson as well, but [Edwards is] the one that tempts me more today. Leon Edwards is someone I would really like fighting again.”
Luque said he’s staying ready because “big opportunities” may come, and “my name will be in the mix for a fight in the top-five,” especially in times where UFC fights gets cancelled due to injury or something related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Brazilian welterweight racked up a 8-1 record since his defeat to Edwards in Europe, while “Rocky” went unbeaten in six bouts, most recently a no-contest with Belal Muhammad in Las Vegas.
Luque believes both welterweights have evolved since that night in London, but his change has been more dramatic “because I already saw [Edwards] as a complete fighter when we fought.”
“He had great striking, great cardio, great wrestling and grappling,” Luque said. “I was still developing and learning. I had [good] striking but still had to lot to get better at with my wrestling. My ground game was good in some positions, and I was still getting better with my cardio. I see both of us as more mature, complete fighters. We both have what it takes to become welterweight champions.”
Luque has to beat Woodley first in order to convince the UFC to match him up against Edwards next, and opts to see “The Chosen One” as a highly-dangerous and “motivated former champion” instead of a easy prey on a three-fight losing skid “against the three best fighters in the world” in Colby Covington, Gilbert Burns and Kamaru Usman.
“When I see someone like Woodley fighting a guy like me, if I were him and were to fight strategically, I would at least try takedowns to get me tired and slow my pace on the feet,” Luque said. “I think we will grapple eventually in this fight but I’m ready for it.
“My ground game is strong, especially with the submissions, but I obviously want to impose my will on the feet. [But] I think it ends with a knockout. I don’t think it’s going to be fast. Maybe in the end of round two or early in round three. I will be tough, but I foresee a knockout.”
If Woodley would call it quits in MMA with a fourth consecutive loss in the octagon, that remains to be seen. Luque won’t boast that feat in case it happens, though, but wouldn’t be shocked if the former UFC welterweight king continues to compete despite a 0-4 skid.
“If he wants to retire, OK,” Luque said. “If not, no problem either. He has dominated the division and nothing changes his history. For now on, maybe he realizes he can’t fight on the highest level and starts to do lower-level fights, but continues to compete because that’s something he loves doing. There are plenty of options.”