Vicente Luque became a new man and fighter after the birth of his son Bento in May. Now returning to the cage for the first as a father, “The Silent Assassin” is taking his career “even more serious” ahead of his UFC 265 clash on Saturday with Michael Chiesa in Houston, TX.
“The mindset is different now,” Luque told MMA Fighting. “Every fight, every step I take, every decision I make in my life, is thinking about my son Bento. It’s a positive change because it makes me stronger. I already want to become champion, I have the willpower to dedicate and be disciplined in my career to achieve my goals, and now it’s like this mission has gotten even more serious.”
UFC 265 will go down the night before Brazilian Father’s Day — Luque’s first as a dad — and the welterweight contender plans on a late celebration with his wife Carol and Bento after collecting his 14th octagon victory. Preparing for a UFC fight less than three months after the birth of his son was challenging, though.
“It’s a whole other rhythm, it’s changed a lot, but Carol helps me a lot,” Luque said. “She has given me a lot of support but there’s no other way, I have to be part of it because I want to. There were some adjustments. The first month was complicated because of the sleeping situation. I wasn’t sleeping as well as I used to before and we need the best sleep possible to train well. It was more challenging, but we pulled it off. It was hard work, but very gratifying. Having my son with me motivates to push it harder.”
Chiesa, 17-4 as a professional and winner of the 15th season of The Ultimate Fighter in 2012, is also on a roll going into his bout with Luque after winning his past four against Carlos Condit, Diego Sanchez, Rafael dos Anjos, and Neil Magny. For Luque, “worst case scenario, a good win gets me in the top 3.”
“It depends on the rest of the division,” said Luque, who’s ranked No. 9 in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings, two spots under Chiesa. “Maybe I’ll need one more fight to get to the belt, maybe it shuffles and the opportunity comes next. It all depends on my performance. I’m not focused on just winning, but winning in dominant fashion like I’ve been doing in my last fights. That will show I really can be a title contender.
“People like to watch my style, that’s what excites the crowd, and that works well for me because most of the time I get to win my fights and impose my style. But only putting on excited fights isn’t enough if you don’t have the results. The UFC is not just a sport, it’s entertaining, it depends on the support from the fans, and I think I can do that. I’m not that trash talker, but my style speaks for itself. I go there and put on a fight, and I think the UFC would be interested. Coming out with a good win over Chiesa, a fight between Kamaru [Usman] and I is very possible.”
“I still have good relationship with Kamaru,” said Luque, who hasn’t trained with Usman in years. “We’re not like best friends but we respect each other a lot, we’ve trained a lot together. I know his daughter, he knows my wife. We have a good, respectful relationship. We were on TUF together so there’s a history, there’s friendship, but we always spoke about the possibility of fighting each other.
“We understand that we have to face each other in order to be the best in the world, and right now he’s the best in the world. I really want to be the best in the world, and I have to beat him to be the best.”