The toughest fight of UFC welterweight Vicente Luque’s career continues to change, because he keeps on getting in brawls.
As of just months ago, it was his Fight of the Night effort against Bryan Barberena in February. Luque and Barberena swung at each other nonstop for nearly 15 minutes until Luque finally finished him late in the final frame. Luque was down on two of three judges’ scorecards after the second round, so needed a finish to win the fight.
But Mike Perry took Luque to a split decision last weekend at UFC Uruguay, surviving all three rounds against the power puncher. Up until Luque ran into “Platinum,” all nine of his UFC wins were by stoppage.
“Definitely it topped the Barberena fight,” Luque told Bloody Elbow. “Barberena is a tough guy, but in the end, I was able to put him out. I couldn’t put out Perry, even though I connected the knee and it was such a bad break (Perry’s nose). But he kept on coming, he got me down, and weathered through the guillotine. It was the toughest fight for sure.”
It’s no surprise that Luque and Perry put on a great fight. Both of them hit hard for the welterweight division, and neither have been knocked out in their pro careers.
Luque said he anticipated “a really hard fight” against Perry based on the shots Perry has taken in the past against other top fighters, such as Santiago Ponzinibbio, Alex Oliveira, and Max Griffin. Luque really worked on his cardio ahead of the fight, knowing there was a good chance he wouldn’t be able to pull off a quick finish.
“From what I felt, [Perry] just can’t be knocked out,” Luque said. “I really hit him hard — not only with the hands, but I hit him with the knees, and I tried to kick him, as well. He is really, really tough. He took my best shots. I don’t know if it’s possible to knock him out — at least not in the welterweight division. Maybe if he moved up and fought some stronger guys, maybe that would happen, but he’s just a tough, tough guy.”
Some people thought Perry had done enough to get the nod, but Luque felt confident before and after the decision that he was the rightful winner. Upon re-watching the fight, Luque admitted that it was “much closer” than he initially thought, but still believes the judges made the right call.
“It really was a close fight,” Luque said. “It could’ve gone either way, depending on the judges. I saw myself clearly winning the third, I believe I got the second, and the first one is that round where you could give it to either one; I edged it to him. Overall, I still think I got the win, but it was a really close fight.”
With the win over Perry, Luque is now riding a six-fight winning streak and cracked back into the 170-pound rankings at No. 14. Luque has adopted the dark horse role in the division, with not enough people giving him credit or acknowledging him for his accomplishments.
Luque considers the Perry win his breakthrough performance of sorts. He has moved past the imaginary hump and expects to only be fighting ranked competition from here on out.
“I think this win is going to change a lot of stuff,” Luque said. “Not only the win, but the streak I’m on, the way I’ve been winning my last fights, and the kind of fight I put on. I know at this point every single MMA fan wants to watch me fight; they know it’s going to be a good fight.
“I’ve proved my point. I deserve somebody in the top 10. That’s what I’m looking for right now. I think I have the quality. I think I have the history. Most of my wins are by finish. I think I’m an exciting fighter. I’m definitely a high-quality fighter. I think it’s my time to go out there and face some big names.”
Luque called out Stephen Thompson after the fight. The 29-year-old ultimately just wants to face a top 10 opponent, but prefers the “Wonderboy” pairing because it’ll allow him to test out his striking against one of the best strikers in the division.
“First of all, I don’t believe he has any fight on his mind or anything lined up, so I think that makes sense,” Luque said. “There’s no reason why he wouldn’t fight me, unless he just doesn’t want to fight me.
“Stylistically, we’re both strikers; he’s one of the best strikers in the division, so I think fans would love to see us fight. And for myself, I’m always trying to test my striking against the better strikers.”
Whether or not Thompson, who’s coming off a brutal knockout loss to Anthony Pettis in March, will take the fight is a whole different story, Luque said. Thompson, a former two-time title challenger, is ranked seven spots ahead of Luque at No. 7.
“If you think logically, I don’t think he will take the fight,” Luque said. “I definitely don’t think he will take it. But you never know. Maybe he wants to go out there and have some fun and have a good fight for the fans. Then, he’ll take it. I don’t know. It’s hard to know what guys have on their minds.”
Luque plans to sit out for a little while to rest and heal up. After all, he’s fought four times in the past 10 months, and twice they were gritty, back-and-forth battles.
“I have to get some rest,” Luque said. “My coaches have been talking to me about that.”
Luque plans to do some pad work and strength-and-conditioning as early as next week, but he’ll get back into training slowly. Luque is eyeing a return to the Octagon in December or January. As far as how firm his timeline will be, Luque said he won’t jump out of his seat for another unranked fight, but if offered a fight that intrigues him, he might budge a little bit.
“It’s going to depend a lot of the fight,” Luque said. “If they come to me with a big name, maybe I’ll make it even in November. If it’s a big name, if it’s the right fight, who knows, maybe I’ll be there in November. But initially, I want to take it slow, I want to recover my body, and really be smart about it.”
Or budge a lot.
“For Wonderboy, I’ll do it in three weeks.”