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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Vicente Luque: Tyron Woodley not in good spot right now, but remains highly dangerous

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Vicente Luque insists he is not taking Tyron Woodley lightly.

Luque meets former UFC welterweight champion Woodley at UFC 260 on Saturday, where he’ll look to continue his ascent up the promotion’s 170-pound ladder.

Woodley (19-6-1 MMA, 9-5-1 UFC) may currently be enduring the worst stretch of his career, having dropped three straight, but Luque (18-7-1 MMA, 11-3 UFC) says he isn’t underestimating him. “The Chosen One” has heaps of experience, and his losses have only come to elite competition in current champion Kamaru Usman, former interim champ Colby Covington, and recent title challenger Gilbert Burns.

Despite the setbacks, Woodley remains No. 8 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie welterweight rankings, with Luque at No. 10.

“This is a great fight,” Luque told MMA Junkie. “It makes sense for this bout to happen now. Woodley is an ex-champion. He’s not in a good spot right now, but he remains highly dangerous. He has several great wins in his career, and I’m on a new winning streak. I’m hungry to get a title shot.

“Both of us have something to prove. He wants to be champ again, and I want to prove that I can also get there and be one of the most dominant fighters in our weight class. I believe now is the ideal time for this fight. Fans should not miss this one.”

Luque was on the cusp of breaking into the top five when he met Stephen Thompson in November 2019 but fell short in what was a valuable learning experience. However, it didn’t take long for Luque to get back to winning ways, scoring two straight stoppage wins over Niko Price and Randy Brown.

He credits a change in mentality for allowing him to get back on track and said he isn’t planning on letting another big opportunity slip away when he meets his most accomplished foe yet.

“Now I’m coming off two good wins,” Luque said. “Before that, I lost a decision to Stephen Thompson. I learned a lot about sticking to a strategy. I made mistakes against Thompson, mainly in the second and third rounds. I ended up not doing things in the fight which we had planned for.

“It was a big learning experience. I was able to apply those lessons during the rematch against Niko Price, and especially against Randy Brown. I had good results because I followed our gameplan. There were lessons I needed to learn. Now I’m back to my winning ways. I’m looking forward to another great fight.”

UFC 260 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and early prelims on ESPN+.

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