Vicente Luque defeats Niko Price, UFC 249

Vicente Luque: Under the radar

Vicente Luque goes by the moniker, the “Silent Assassin”. I had always assumed that the intent behind the moniker was a reflection of Luque’s personality. Of recent however, it appears that it has become a reflection of his career as well.

We take a look back at some of Luque’s best performances. While looking at the cards he was on, it might not surprise you that he still flies under the radar. 

Vicente Luque v Bryan Barbarena

Luque and Barbarena faced each other on February 17, 2019. This was a fight of the year candidate. On multiple occasions throughout the fifteen minute war, the fight looked like it was going to be stopped.  Luque dealt an inhuman amount of punishment to Barbarena. At one point, someone said “the only conclusion is that Barbarena enjoys taking shots to the head”. Barbarena’s toughness was indeed a sight to behold, but so were Luque’s combinations. Finally, in the last few seconds of the fight when it looked like it would indeed go the distance, Barbarena succumbed to the damage he had absorbed over the course of the fight. Luque secured the TKO win at 4:54 seconds of the last round with six seconds left on the clock.

With a performance like that Luque did get a good portion of the spotlight. However, much of the spotlight was taken away by the returning Cain Velasquez. The AKA standout was making a comeback after a gap in action due to injury. To make things even worse, the conclusion to Cain’s fight was somewhat questionable. Velasquez turned out to be another victim of an early Francis Ngannou knockout. Before the referee called the fight, Cain’s knee appeared to give out.  Even after the fight, the controversy remained. Ngannou at one point claimed that Cain’s knee buckled due to the uppercut that landed on his chin. Others pointed out that Ngannou may have landed a few shots to the back of Cain’s head which were not quite legal.

The Velasquez-Ngannou fight wasn’t the only other attention grabber. The night witnessed the UFC debut of the latest scion of the Gracie dynasty: Kron Gracie. Ice-cream Kron lived up to the reputation that preceded him when he submitted Alex Caceres with ease. 

Vicente Luque v Stephen Thompson

Luque called out Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson as a step-up in competition for him. He was riding a 6 fight win streak at that point. Unfortunately, it proved to be just that. Luque would lose as Wonderboy put on a striking clinic like only he can. Luque would however demonstrate his durability. Wonderboy would end up breaking his hands in that fight. 

But of course, Luque would not get the spotlight that night either. Because that night was the UFCs 500th event, UFC 244. US President Donald Trump attended. A custom BMF belt was on the line in the main event. And once again we had controversy, as the physician in charge declared Nate Diaz unfit to continue two more rounds against Jorge Masvidal. 

Making things even worse, there were 5 knockouts in a row earlier that night. A hard-fought decision loss  didn’t quite cut it.

Vicente Luque v Niko Price 2

Niko Price is one of the most exciting fighters in the UFC. Luque had already defeated Price once in October 2017. Both fighters had evolved considerably in the intervening period. So provided the fight delivered, you would think that Luque finally gets the attention he deserves right? In a quiet arena, devoid of fans, Luque and Price put on a remarkable fight. You could hear both fighters breathe and you could hear both fighters land. For fans watching at home, it was a reminder of exactly how hard a UFC hits.  But once again, Luque’s remarkable performance came right in the middle of a whole lot going on.

UFC 249 was a remarkable event as a whole. It signalled the return of sports during the pandemic. But the gap between UFC 249 and the previous event provided a lot of ammunition for fights to be made.  Hence one of the most stacked UFC cards was made. And while Luque made it on the card, the rest of the card delivered too.  Ngannou continued on his path of destruction.  Gaethje ended Ferguson’s eight year streak.  Dominick Cruz returned to the octagon. And Henry Cejudo announced what was ostensibly a retirement.

Conclusion

So keep your eyes open the next time you hear the name Vicente Luque. The twenty-eight year old welterweight has a soft-spoken personality, but unleashes a barrage inside the octagon. The main reason we haven’t heard of him as a household UFC name yet is because his best work has always come right around something bigger.

 

 

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