Vicente Luque is criminally underrated, but perhaps he changed that at UFC 260. Tyron Woodley stood opposite the Brazilian, but he walked out of the Octagon with his first submission loss not long after Jason Herzog started the fight.
A D’arce choke was Luque’s chosen weapon when the former champion fell to his feet. It could just have easily been ground and pound strikes or just about any submission. Woodley was that far dazed by Luque’s strikes. Despite one shaky moment on the feet, “The Silent Assassin” comfortably added a legendary name to his record.
Having not even turned 30 yet, which seems remarkable given how long he’s been around, big things look set to come for Luque. In 16 fights in the UFC, his record stands at 13-3. Two of his defeats were to top five welterweights Leon Edwards and Stephen Thompson. Wins over Niko Price, Randy Brown and now Woodley have left Luque in line for another good opponent.
With that said, here are three logical future opponents for Vicente Luque in the UFC.
#3 Leon Edwards (UFC record: 10-2-1) vs. Vicente Luque
This fight makes sense by way of convenience. Leon Edwards had a chance to nail down a title shot against Belal Muhammad; he blew it. A second-round eye poke, a bad eye poke I might add, led to a no contest. The Englishman’s calls for a fight for the belt felt a bit misplaced and Jorge Masvidal was given the next shot.
Needing a win to secure his spot as number one contender, Edwards should be ready to enter the Octagon soon. Given the way he beat Woodley, Luque should be fresh and eager to fight again shortly. A quick turnaround could be in order for the Brazilian.
The fight works for both parties. Vicente Luque is higher ranked than Muhammad. So a win for Edwards against Luque should put him in a position for a chance at gold. He’d perhaps be even more worthy, given Luque has just beaten a former champion.
For Luque, this fight would offer him the chance to beat or impress against one of the division’s best. The step forward would be huge for his career, with a top-five spot a certainty should he defeat "Rocky." I wouldn’t be surprised to see this fight announced for May or June.
#2 Michael Chiesa (UFC record: 11-4) vs. Vicente Luque
Both have been building up wins on parallel roads that could be about to meet at the same junction for the first time. A fight between Michael Chiesa and Vicente Luque is a big possibility.
Had Chiesa made the switch to welterweight sooner this fight probably would have gone down already. It’s one of those matchups that just looks like it should happen on paper. Ranked sixth and seventh, both riding winning streaks, and both have just beaten a top-10, it makes sense.
After defeats to Kevin Lee and Anthony Pettis, “Maverick” left the lightweight division to fight at 170 pounds. Since making the move, he’s looked totally dominant. A win by Kimura over Carlos Condit announced his presence, a win over Diego Sanchez showed his abilities, and wins over Rafael Dos Anjos and Neil Magny put him into contention.
With 18 submission wins between them, it would be an interesting fight. Luque, who boasts 11 knockouts, would look to avoid any grappling exchanges with the dangerous Chiesa. The fight would provide a path to a top-five ranking for the winner, and maybe a title shot not long after.
#1 Nate Diaz (UFC record: 15-10) vs. Vicente Luque
Now this is a fun fight.
This matchup is top simply because Vicente Luque wants it. I’m all about giving people what they want, especially if it brings us fans a fight like this. Let’s hope Dana White feels the same way.
Nate Diaz is a legendary name of the sport. A rough and tough Stockton native who loves to fight. It’s hard not to get behind Diaz when he enters the Octagon. After a narrow loss to Conor McGregor at UFC 202, Diaz took a step back from the cage.
Three years later, he returned and looked back to his best against Anthony Pettis. A second fight in 2019 saw Diaz fight for the symbolic BMF belt against Jorge Masvidal at Madison Square Garden. The nature of the ending led him to call for a rematch, but with that having not happened, Diaz didn’t fight in 2020.
If the rumors and Diaz's social media are to be believed, he's ready to fight. Vicente Luque might not be the massive name or payday he would want after the Masvidal fight, but it's a chance to re-establish himself as a legitimate contender in the UFC. After defeating Tyron Woodley, Luque called out Diaz.
As Luque said, his style matches perfectly with Diaz and the striking exchanges between the two is something that gets our UFC brains racing. Book it Dana!