Since losing a decision to Leon Edwards more than two years ago, Vicente Luque has been on a tear, and that trend continued on Saturday in Uruguay.
Luque (17-6-1) waged an incredible war with polarizing tough guy bomber Mike Perry for three rounds. The two welterweights tore into each other like wolverines and they nabbed the “Fight of the Night” bonus for their efforts. Both men were hurt in the fracas, but it was “The Silent Assassin” who prevailed, destroying Perry’s nose and facial flesh in the process.
Luque was awarded the win, albeit via split decision, and the type of slugfest he engaged in has kind of become the norm for the Brazilian.
“I'm getting used to this kind of fight,” he said after his win, which was the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 156 on ESPN+. “First with [Bryan] Barbarena, now with Perry.”
Though most observers felt that the Cerrado MMA product did more than enough to walk away with a clear-cut decision win, Luque had to sweat out the verdict as cage announcer Joe Martinez read the official scores. One judge felt Perry did enough to win 29-28, but that tally was overturned by the other two. Somewhat controversial, yes, but at least the correct man had his hand raised by referee Eduardo Herdy.
“I confess that I was a little surprised by the split decision,” he said. “I thought I had won the first two rounds and lost the last one, but the win was clear to me. I followed my strategy, although I took more blows than I expected.”
What’s next for Luque, one of the busiest fighters on the UFC roster this past year, is anybody’s guess. He’s won six straight, with only his win over Perry going to the judges. Luque admitted that he is well aware of how busy he’s been, but it’s part of his long-term goal of one day becoming world champion.
“It's hard to do several fights in a short period of time,” he stated. “I try to stay healthy to be able to do that. I had four fights over an 11-month period. I'm dedicating myself, and I hope UFC gives me a top-10 in my next fight. I beat a very tough guy, and showed that I'm here to stay.”
Luque did what he needed to in order to propel himself up the 170-pound ladder, as Perry was a high risk-high reward matchup. Still, Luque is a fighter and understands he has to put himself in these positions if he’s ever to ascend the welterweight mountain.
“Nobody wants to fight a guy like Mike Perry,” he said. “He’s not ranked, but he’s very dangerous. Nobody wants to risk fighting someone like him. I think I should be fighting guys in the top 10 now.”