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Vicente Luque ‘would love to welcome’ Dustin Poirier to welterweight for next fight

UFC Fight Night: Luque v Dos Anjos Photo by Al Powers/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images

After taking out former lightweight champion in Rafael dos Anjos in the UFC Vegas 78 main event, Vicente Luque wasted no time turning his attention toward another opponent with title credentials on his resume.

While he took a long look at the welterweight rankings following his win on Saturday night, Luque ultimately mentioned Dustin Poirier as an opponent that would interest him, especially given the way they’ve both earned a reputation for jaw-dropping performances in the UFC. Poirier is currently looking to bounce back from a knockout loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC 291, but he has repeatedly mentioned the possibility that he could fight at 170 pounds rather than enduring a difficult weight cut to get down to the lightweight limit.

“An interesting fight as well, I think I would love to welcome Dustin Poirier [to welterweight] if he needs somebody,” Luque said during the UFC Vegas 78 post-fight show. “He said he might go to 170 so who knows, we can make that work.”

Poirier hasn’t mentioned anybody by name when it comes to his next fight, but a clash with Luque would almost guarantee a highly entertaining battle. Combined, Poirier and Luque have secured 12 “Fight of the Night” awards with 21 total bonuses between their long careers in the UFC.

While Luque’s win over dos Anjos won’t go down as one of his most memorable performances, just getting back in the cage again was already a victory after the 31-year-old veteran nearly saw his career come to an abrupt end after he suffered a brain bleed following his previous outing.

Luque eventually got cleared to compete again but he felt a nervous energy on Saturday night, which was unlike anything he felt before.

“It was like having the most amazing win for me, just because of everything [I went through],” Luque said. “So many changes in my life. I moved to Florida, moved my family, a new way of life and just training and going through the injury. At the beginning, not knowing if I was ever going to be able to do this again and then I got cleared. Then going through the training camp, I’m going to fight a legend like Rafael. It’s a special win.

“I feel blessed. I feel amazing. Now it’s like all the decisions that were taken and everybody that was around to help me, we did the right moves and we’re victorious. That’s beautiful.”

Luque relied heavily on his grappling to overpower dos Anjos during the five-round fight, a strategy he employed thanks to ex-UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Training together at Kill Cliff FC in Florida, Luque credited Usman as a key component in his preparation that helped lead him to victory.

“Kamaru [Usman] told me ‘you’re going to be the bigger guy in there, you’re going to be stronger because you always fought at 170,’” Luque said. “That’s what I felt in there. Once he shot, I stuffed it, I turned around and I was putting my weight on him and I could feel he had do a lot of power to move me and I was just maybe 70 percent controlling him so I could conserve some energy but still put pressure on him, throw the shots.”

Luque confessed there were a few moments where he nearly threw caution to the wind to engage in a firefight with dos Anjos.

That’s where Luque has secured so many finishes throughout his career but this time around he really wanted to stick to the game plan while simultaneously proving he could last for 25 minutes without slowing down.

“I did have the fight I did expect,” Luque said. “I did expect him to be as tough as he was. I think in there, I really felt like I was dominating in every exchange in wrestling. I felt like my cardio was there. I heard his coach speaking to him ‘he’s tired as well, he’s also tired!’ I was like I’m not tired and then I started punching him like you’re tired, you’re trying to clinch me.”

The fight also allowed Luque to shake loose the fear he felt before taking punches as he went to war for the first time since his medical emergency. It all worked out in the end with Luque getting the win and now he’s just ready to move forward with his career.

“There was another side of me that was worried,” Luque said. “Like before I took those shots, I didn’t know how I was going to be in a fight. I took those shots and OK, you’re good. That’s why you’re here, and you’re ready to go.”

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