Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight knockout artists Tyron Woodley and Vicente Luque will square off this weekend (Sat., March 27, 2021) at UFC 260 inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Are we witnessing the worst fall from grace in UFC history? Woodley was a well-established champion with multiple defenses to his name prior to stepping into the cage with Kamaru Usman. Since that moment, Woodley has lost 14 consecutive rounds. The only thing that stopped him from losing 75 straight minutes of combat — would that be a record? — was an injury vs. Colby Covington.
Safe to say, Woodley’s back is to the
Fortunately, Luque is not Usman, Covington nor Gilbert Burns. Unfortunately, “The Silent Assassin” is an iron-chinned knockout artist who fights with the simple intent of absolutely destroying his opponents. He’s won eight of his last nine bouts, earning this high-profile match up.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Robbie Lawler (UFC 201), Stephen Thompson (UFC 209, UFC 214), Demian Maia (UFC 214), Kelvin Gastelum (UFC 183), Darren Till (UFC 228)
Key Losses: Kamaru Usman (UFC 235), Colby Covington (UFC Vegas 11), Gilbert Burns (UFC on ESPN 9), Rory MacDonald (UFC 174)
Keys to Victory: Woodley has never done anything too complicated in the cage. He has a dynamite right hand, both on the counter and setup by tricky level changes. Woodley’s offensive wrestling is effective but rare, and he’s majorly difficult to take down.
This is really, really simple: Woodley has to initiate his own offense if he’s to have any chance.
There is little in Woodley’s recent string of losses that show a decline in athleticism. He’s still powerful, still difficult to drag to the mat. However, Woodley has long been too comfortable backing into the fence and staying there. It took some time, but foes have caught on, and the only option is to adapt.
Luque is an aggressive bruiser, but he’s never been hard to hit. If Woodley actively circles away from the fence, occasionally leads and throws kicks, then he’s giving himself the best chance possible to score his counter right hand.
Key Wins: Belal Muhammed (UFC 205), Mike Perry (UFC Fight Night 156), Bryan Barberena (UFC on ESPN 1), Niko Price (UFC 249, UFC Fight Night 119), Randy Brown (UFC Vegas 5)
Key Losses: Stephen Thompson (UFC 244), Leon Edwards (UFC Fight Night 107)
Keys to Victory: Luque has incredible power in his left hook and right hand. Combine that offensive punching prowess with a sturdy jawline, dangerous ground game, and some ripping kicks, and it’s not hard to see why Luque has been so successful at 170 pounds.
Look, no matter how well one handles punches, taking excessive Woodley right hands probably isn’t a great idea. Fortunately, Luque’s camp is responsible for two of Woodley’s three recent losses, so they should have a good idea on how to dismantle that weapon.
Specifically, Luque can steal some of Burns’ tactics. His fellow Brazilian did a great job of attacking the lead calf and liver with kicks, which kept him offensive while out of range of Woodley’s right. When Woodley reached with his right, Burns made sure to take his head off the center line and fired his own overhand — that’s a Luque specialty.
Given how quickly Woodley closes distance, a single well-timed intercepting blow could end the fight.
This is Woodley’s last stand ...
UFC is unlikely to keep “T-Wood” around for another fight if he continues to get backed into the cage. Even if he loses, Woodley will at least have a chance if he goes down swinging. On the flip side, a victory definitely proves that Woodley remains one of the 10-best Welterweights in the world.
It doesn’t put him back in the title picture, but at this point, any win is a good one!
Meanwhile, this bout is a second chance for Luque to really bump himself up a few notches. Even if Woodley’s name is on the downtrend, it still holds real value. Luque’s first opportunity came in Nov. 2019 vs. Stephen Thompson, and while it was a game performance, Luque clearly lost. He has to capitalize upon this second opportunity, particularly since he’s already beaten many of the toughest men outside the Top 10.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 260 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.
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At UFC 260, Tyron Woodley and Vicente Luque will throw down. Which man will earn the victory?