Vicente Luque: Climbing the Rankings
With a 5-1 record under the UFC banner, Vicente Luque is fresh off the back of a big win against Niko Price in his native Brazil. Now, the 26 year old ‘Silent Assassin’ is hoping to climb the rankings and get a shot at the highly coveted UFC Welterweight title.
The fighting roots were placed within Vicente from an early age, as he told us at SpitballingPod ‘My involvement with fighting started real young - I started karate at 3 years old, my mother is a Black belt and I trained it up until about 10 years old, but I never had too much of an interest in it. I played soccer and all other kinds of sports, but at age 15 I started training muay-thai and that’s when I really got into it’.
Vicente amassed a 7-4-1 record before entering ‘The Ultimate Fighter: American Top Team vs. Blackzilians’, an experience that he looks back on fondly – ‘It definitely is strange, but I think it changes you for sure. Living with the guys you’re gonna fight and not having phones, internet, television or nothing to do but look at each other’s faces. It’s a different experience, strange at moments, but it made me much more of a professional. Nowadays I have a different vision of fighting, I know it’s my job and I have to go out there to train and perform, but still respect all of the guys that I fight’ he explained.
As much as it can be a gruelling experience going through ‘The Ultimate Fighter’, Luque agreed that it does have a positive effect with the fans once it’s over – ‘I definitely do think it helps a lot, it’s a way to get your name out there before you come into the UFC. Many other guys come in there, and they have many other fights already and even belts in other organisations, but when they get to the UFC, they’re still not well known. I think the Ultimate Fighter does that very well for the guys as you’re on television once a week, for two months and I think that definitely helps a lot’.
To go back to the aforementioned bout with Niko Price, Vicente took the somewhat bold step of accepting the fight on a mere 11 days’ notice. He explained the thinking behind that, saying ‘I was talking to the UFC already and I wanted to fight October or November this year. I had asked them for Brazil and I had also asked them for New York. I had a feeling something was going to show up, so I kept myself really well trained, almost as if I had a fight already. When the opportunity came, I was just ready to take it’.
The fight went Luque’s way, continuing his already impressive run within the UFC as he locked in a beautiful d’arce choke after only 52 seconds of the first round – ‘I’ve always worked the d’arce and the anaconda’ he admitted, adding ‘I have long arms, so it’s really easy to get. Since I started training jiu-jitsu it’s just always come easy to me. It’s one of my strongest submissions, so when I see it and I lock it, it’s really hard to escape from’.
Within ‘The Silent Assassin’s’ UFC hot streak, he has picked up performance of the night honours in a third of his bouts; ‘I think it’s my style’ he said, ‘I’m always trying to finish, be it by decision or knockout – that’s just the way I fight, it’s not something that I try to do, but naturally that’s how I fight. I think that’s why the bonuses come’.
The fight with Price took place in Brazil, where Vicente has actually competed in 14 of his 19 professional fights; I wondered if there was much difference fighting in Brazil compared to perhaps America or England, to which he responded ‘It’s a little bit different, it’s a different atmosphere – you have all the crowd on your side. The Brazilian fans are loud – they shout a lot, they scream a lot and that’s a bit different’. Although because of his mixed heritage, Luque confessed that he is not short of support when he fights in America either – ‘When I fight in the US, it’s not so different also because I have a lot of guys over there cheering for me; I was born in the United States, so in a way I’m Brazilian and American. When I fought in England it was different as the fans over there were clearly cheering for the British guy to win. It’s different, but I don’t think it changes too much for the fighting; it’s just that the atmosphere is different’.
‘I’m hoping for something in maybe March next year, that’s what I’m aiming for’. Vicente is currently ranked outside the top 15 within the UFC Welterweight division, and that’s clearly his next target – ‘I believe I’m gonna get a tough opponent, that’s what I want – I have five good wins in the UFC and I want a really tough opponent, hopefully someone in the top fifteen. March would be perfect for me, I want to have a good camp for an opponent like that and it gives me time to recover from this last fight’.
The UFC welterweight division is currently one of the most stacked within the organisation, and that’s something that Luque himself sees while assessing his competition. When looking at a potential route to a ranking, he explained that it might not be as simple as he’d like ‘There are tough opponents within the top 15 and outside of the top 15. I think if they were to do a list of the top 30, then they would still all be tough guys. I’m personally always looking at the top 15, because I know that’s who everyone else is looking at. It’s hard because you want to put yourself to the test, but the guys who have already made it to the top 15 don’t want to take the risk’.
Risk however, is certainly not something that Luque is averse to ‘How good am I really gonna be if I’m only fighting the guys that I know I’m gonna beat? Sometimes you’ve gotta test yourself and take fights with the guys where you’re not sure of the result beforehand. I’ll do my thing and we’ll just see how far I get’ he said.
As far as his aspirations go, Vicente is not halting at a top 15 ranking, in fact he is looking far past that ‘I want to be one of those fighters that gets remembered and be in the hall of fame one day’ he explained. Until then though, it seems that his mind is in the right place, and he’s enjoying the journey ‘I just love competing, and the fighting is something I really enjoy doing. I thought if I gotta do something for the rest of my life, I gotta do something that I love’.