“The Silent Assassin” Vicente Luque (18-7-1) recently told The Scrap that he found his most recent fight at UFC 249 to be very silent. Luque battled in a rematch against “The Hybrid” Niko Price (14-4) on May 9 in Jacksonville, Florida.
Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, fans are not allowed in the UFC venues at the moment and this leaves the fighters competing in quiet empty arenas. Luque revealed that he incorporated visualization into his training camp for the expectation of silence.
“I got ready for that,” Luque said, “I did a lot of visualization that the arena was empty so I made sure that wouldn’t be a factor. For me, it’s more exciting when people are there. They kind of give me that motivation, but it wasn’t that bad. I want to thank all the fans. I think that’s my biggest motivation. Even though for this last fight they weren’t present in the audience, I know that everybody was at home enjoying the fight. That’s why I put on the kind of fights that I do.”
One thing that worked to his advantage in the silent arena he said was, “I could hear a lot of my cornermen and I could hear Niko’s cornermen so I kind of knew what they wanted him to do and know what I would do against it.”
Luque stated that the Coronavirus protocols the UFC followed were well-planned. “We had a lot of testing for the Coronavirus. I had my own training room and I thought that was pretty cool. I had my own sauna to cut weight. I only saw my opponent on the day of weigh-ins and on the night of the fights so there was real social distancing going on. I think the UFC did everything necessary to make sure the shows could happen and that no one was going to take a big risk.”
Price suffered an eye injury in the fight which caused the doctor stoppage in round three and Luque won the fight by TKO. The 28-year-old said he expected his fight with Price to be tougher than the first one. “I mean it was a rematch and you know it was kind of what I expected. I did expect him to come tougher than the last time we fought. I kind of knew it was going to be a war. He’s a tough guy. He can take a lot of damage and I put it all out there. I tried to give my best during the whole fight and tried to get him out as soon as I could.”
When comparing his two fights with Price, Luque said he felt “The Hybrid” was more aggressive the first time. “I feel like the first time he respected my power a little bit. In the first fight, he didn’t respect me at all. He was just coming at me and I was trying to put him out at the same time. I saw him feel many of my shots, but even so, he would keep coming. He kicked a little bit more. He got me with that teep, so that was a little surprising. It was a little bit different than the first time but nothing too different. I kind of got ready for some new things he was going to bring, and I felt comfortable in there.”
The Cerrada MMA/Hard Knocks 365 fighter said he is generally very happy with his performance in his recent win against Price. “I felt good. I liked my performance and a win is a win. I am definitely happy with that.” He added that it’s a good feeling getting back in the win column after his tough decision loss against Thompson.
“I feel like I’m back on track,” Luque expressed, “My goal is to get all the way to the top and fight for that belt. I did not get the outcome I wanted against Thompson, but at the same time, I learned a lot from that fight. I feel much more ready to fight guys that are in the top 10 that are in the top 5. I feel that I needed that loss to be able to evolve into becoming a better fighter.”
Many fans will remember when the Brazilian faced Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (15-4-1) in November 2019. Although it was an unfortunate unanimous decision loss for Luque, Thompson’s nose was mangled during the fight.
Asked if he intended to injure his last two opponents, Luque explained that “Both Niko and Mike [Perry] have really hard chins. I’m trying to knock them out from the beginning of the fight, but they just keep on coming. They take whatever I hit them with. I’m going to try to put the guy out. I’m going to try to hit him as hard as I can. If the fight goes long enough something’s going to end up happening like, you know, Niko’s eye or Perry’s nose. It’s just something that happens. I am out there to win and if that’s what it costs it’s going to have to be that.”
Luque is currently ranked at No. 11 in the UFC’s welterweight division. He noted an opponent that would make sense for him next would be Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (23-10).
“He had a good fight against [Donald] Cerrone on May 9 as well, so I think it just makes sense for both of us. He is resting up now. I am resting up now and soon we are going to be back to training. He is a guy that was a champion. I think he has a lot to add for me. I think it’s a great fight; an exciting fight for the fans.”