Vicente Luque expects big implications from his bout against the streaking Michael Chiesa.
Luque (20-7-1 MMA, 13-3 UFC) meets Chiesa (17-4 MMA, 11-4 UFC) on the main card of UFC 265, which takes place Saturday at Toyota Center in Houston.
Having only lost once in almost four years, Luque has emerged as one of the hottest contenders in the division. He’s coming off a thrilling finish over former UFC welterweight champion Tyron Woodley, but due to his recent setback to former two-time title challenger Stephen Thompson, he knows he’ll likely need a couple more wins before earning a shot at gold.
“I’m on a great streak,” Luque told MMA Junkie. “I’ve won nine out of my last 10 fights. Most of those wins have been by knockout or submission. I’ve been making my way up the rankings, carving my name in the weight class. This next bout is important to determine which of us could get into the top three, and get an eventual title shot. This is a super important fight for me. I’m highly focused.
“To get to a title shot, even with a good win, I expect I’ll need at least one more bout. But my total focus is on Chiesa right now. I’m looking forward to an impressive win to boost me up the rankings even more.”
Chiesa has impressed since moving up to 170 pounds. The Season 15 “Ultimate Fighter” winner has used his slick grappling to dominate the likes of Rafael dos Anjos and Neil Magny, and that’s the type of game plan Luque is anticipating from him.
“Michael Chiesa is a great opponent,” Luque said. “He’s had a lot of success at 155 pounds. Now at 170, he’s had four impressive wins, including beating former champion Rafael dos Anjos. He’s hard to beat. His ground game is his forte – both jiu-jitsu and wrestling. And he’s also a complete striker. I have to be aware of that, even though that’s what I prefer. This may turn out to be a striker vs. grappler matchup. He’ll look to get me down and go for submissions, and I’ll look to keep it on the feet so we can strike. It’s a great challenge for me, but it’s a challenge I’m ready for.”