Trying to knock Bryan Barberena out is kind of like trying to chop down a tree with a golf club — it’s possible, but it’s absurdly difficult. Vicente Luque learned this the hard way when he met Barberena at UFC on ESPN 1 last month.
Over the course of two and half rounds, Luque bombarded his sturdy foe with the kind of skull-rattling strikes that would have left many other fighters snoozing. But Barberena just kept coming — and firing back.
In the end, of course, Luque managed to stop his foe, ending the fight with a crushing knee in the third round. But it certainly wasn’t easy.
Speaking on the latest stacked episode of BJPENN Radio, Vicente Luque looked back on his 2019 Fight of the Year contender with the absurdly durable Bryan Barberena.
“I’m definitely really happy with the outcome,” he said. “It couldn’t have been better, but at the same time, it was not the plan. It was not the plan to go out there and have a war, the way it was, but I think Bryan, he made it happen. He is such a tough guy. He took everything I brought to him in the first round. He dropped me in the first round so I had to overcome and kind of take a different route to win the fight, and the outcome definitely was great for me. Fight of the Night, the way it was, and possibly Fight of the Year. We still got a long time until [the end of the year], but possibly being a contender for Fight of the Year, that’s great for me, and coming out with the win is even better.
“I wanted to pick him apart because I knew I was the more technical striker,” Luque continued. “I wanted to keep the distance as I did in the beginning in and out. I wanted to kick more than I did, but I kicked his knees a couple of times so I started to swell up my foot. I changed my mind after that, and I started boxing more than anything. At the same time, I was fighting the distance well with the hands so I just decided to go with that.
“The thing is, I was hitting him, and he wouldn’t feel it. He would not respect my power so that was the big thing that changed the strategy, because usually I’m used to the guy respecting my power. Even if I hit him with a jab, usually the guy’s gonna feel it, and he’s gonna move back or at least, be kinda concerned on getting hit more than that. Bryan wasn’t concerned at all. He would just keep on walking through the hits and throwing more hits, a lot of volume, so I had to adapt.”
With his victory over Bryan Barberena in the books — however difficult it was to achieve — Vicente Luque now has his sights set on another opponent.
He’s gunning for a staple of the welterweight top-15: Neil Magny.
“I think the biggest thing for me was to get ranked so now I’m number 14 in the division,” he said. “I think that’s a big thing for me. That’s my objective, to start climbing up so getting that number next to my name now gives me the power to… Now I can choose the guys that I want to fight inside the ranking. I can start moving my way up.
“Magny… I don’t think he has any fights scheduled right now,” he continued, explaining the appeal of a fight with Magny. “He’s number 11, so I think it’s a good fight. I like his style as well. I believe he’s southpaw. I’ve been fighting southpaws lately so I think it would be a fitting style for me. He’s a tough guy, but I still believe that I have what I need to beat him.”
Who do you want to see the surging welterweight contender Vicente Luque fight next?
This article first appeared on BJPENN.COM on 3/4/2019.st