Beginning to make noise in the welterweight division is Blackzilians’ rising contender Vicente Luque who picked up a huge knockout win over Belal Muhammad this past Saturday at UFC 205.
He stepped in on short notice as Muhammad’s original opponent, Lyman Good was forced off the card when he was flagged by USADA. With only 2 and a half weeks left for the organisation’s biggest show, Luque got the opportunity of a lifetime and answered the call when he was in Brazil.
“I took the fight right away,” Luque said. “I wanted to be on UFC New York and it was a really good opponent so it made sense to take the fight. The only worry I had was making weight because I was 31 pounds over but I knew I could do it. That was my main focus in those two weeks and a half, to cut the weight and get there in shape.”
He was excited to fight very close to where he was born (New Jersey) and compete in the world’s most famous arena at MSG. His KO win marked his fourth straight finish and back to back knockouts making the moment more special than he could have ever imagined.
“Yeah definitely,” Luque said on this being the biggest moment of his career. “I mean not only the event but I had a really tough opponent in Belal Muhammad who was 10-1, Titan FC champion and his only loss was to Alan Jouban which was a very hard fight. I definitely think he was my hardest opponent until now and my biggest win”
Muhammad who’s a dangerous striker himself, showed an incredible chin in his UFC debut versus Alan Jouban which made Luque’s quick knockout win that much more impressive.
“The game plan was to stand for sure but I did not expect to knock him out. I was ready to go 3 rounds, I knew he was a really tough guy and he could take a punch. My style has always been striking and I’ve always had a lot of power in my hands but I don’t go out there trying to knock people out. I just go out there and try to do my best and always looking to get the right shots with speed and precision and that’s what I did.”
“The left hook landed and it was a quick and precise shot. It wasn’t really a super strong punch trying to knock him out, it was just in the right moment and it clipped him and I was able to finish him on the ground.”
Fresh off the biggest win of his MMA career, he jetted straight to Sao Paulo to corner his good friend and teammate, Kamaru Usman who takes on Warlley Alves this Saturday. With plans on returning early next year, Luque now has his sights on the welterweight’s elite and is eyeing a top 15 fight.
“Taking this fight on short notice and performing the way I did I definitely think I deserve a top 15 opponent, that’s what I’m aiming for. I want to get in that mix to go for the title eventually so top 15 next. I don’t have any names in mind but looking at the top 15 now the guys that are available maybe Kelvin or Lorenz Larkin, I think he’s a really good striker. I’d fight anyone at this point; I think I’m ready for the top 15.”
Scoring back to back first round knockouts has definitely made Luque a feared striker. Although he started his journey in MMA training Muay Thai at the age of 15, we’ve seen his striking improve leaps and bounds under the tutelage of the great Henri Hooft.
“Working with Henri is amazing. He brings so much to MMA and he’s been in MMA for many years now. You can see that his kickboxing has adapted so well to MMA and it works so efficiently. Even with the wrestling, before I’ve always been a striker but I was taken down a lot and now we’ve made adjustments to my striking which have helped me in the defensive wrestling. Just the movement, I feel I get hit a lot less than I used to and I’m more precise.”
A McGregor-esque precise left hook is what earned Luque the finish and a perfect 3-0 in 2016. Looking to surge into the rankings next year, the Blackzilians young star will look to climb the ladder in the welterweight division as he may just be 2016’s breakout star.
Surveillance Video Shows Conor McGregor Smash Phone
In a new video released by TMZ Sports, UFC star is shown knocking a phone down and smashing it in front of the Fountainebleau hotel located in Miami, Florida.
In true McGregor fashion, he followed up the destruction of the phone by doing his famous “billionaire strut.”
McGregor got into an altercation with Ahmed Abdirzak who was following and filming McGregor with his cell phone while McGregor and his entourage were leaving the hotel.
McGregor reportedly extended his hand to offer a hand shake, only to pull it back and smack the phone out of Abdirzak’s hand and proceeding to stomp on it.
After a few stomps, McGregor picks up the phone and walks away. He was later arrested, that same day, and has been charged with felony robbery and misdemeanor criminal mischief, which could land him in prison for up to 6 years.
McGregor has pled not guilty on all charges and is scheduled for trial beginning in May.
Abdirzak filed a lawsuit against McGregor stemming from the incident, but dropped his suit after the two sides worked out a settlement.
Abdirzak was reportedly demanding north of $15,000.
INTERVIEW: John Kavanagh Talks Brave CF 13 in Belfast, Frans Mlambo’s Title Fight and SBG Ireland
Renowned head coach of SBG Ireland, John Kavanagh has helped put Irish MMA on the map. With his star student and multiple time UFC champion, Conor McGregor taking over the MMA world, the two have opened up unlimited doors for the rest of the team.
Today, Kavanagh is leading some of the younger generation to world title fights and global organisations. On June 9th, one of his promising young fighters, Frans Mlambo will get a shot at gold when he takes on Stephen Loman for the Brave Combat Federation bantamweight title.
The two met back in the promotion’s first ever show in Bahrain when Loman picked up a unanimous decision win over Mlambo. It was a learning experience for the young South African who has picked up 3 straight finishes since. Kavanagh is confident that the former IMMAF world champion, Mlambo has all the tools to become champion.
Also competing on the Brave CF 13 card from SBG Ireland, is Cian Cowley (0-1) who takes on Daniel Olejniczak (2-1-1) and Tommy Martin (6-4) who takes on Wales’ Aidan James (1-0).
I spoke to John Kavanagh on the upcoming Brave CF 13 show, Mlambo’s improvements and the team’s preparation for their upcoming bouts. Check out the interview below.
Farah Hannoun: Brave Combat Federation are making their first trip to Europe, you’ve witnessed the organization’s growth so how excited are you to see them go to Belfast?
John Kavanagh: Brave is fast becoming one of the world’s biggest MMA shows so it’s of course great to have them visit Ireland. However, I would have preferred Dublin because that’s my hometown.
Farah Hannoun: Frans Mlambo is headlining the event, with a record of 5-2, he’s practically grown up in the cage, how proud are to see him turn things around with 3 straight finishes since losing to Loman the first time?
John Kavanagh: He’s earned that title shot with exciting finishes both by submission and KO. He’s finding his way in the cage nicely now.
Farah Hannoun: What adjustments has Mlambo made since the first fight with Loman? What do you feel like went wrong the first-time round?
John Kavanagh: His grappling was too weak back then. He’s one of the best strikers I’ve ever seen and now his grappling is catching up. Frans is one of the top 135lb fighters in the world.
Farah Hannoun: Cian Cowley is set to make the walk for the second time in his pro career when he takes on Daniel Olejniczak, in light of the legal issues he’s had the misfortune of dealing with, how hard was it for him to put all that aside and focus on the fight?
John Kavanagh: Cian is very mature and focused. It’s not a problem for him to block out what’s going on outside.
Farah Hannoun: Also competing from SBG, is Tommy Martin who’s looking to bounce back when he takes on Aidan James, how’s he been looking at the gym and what can we expect from him?
John Kavanagh: Tommy is a technician. Clean striking, one of best doubles on my team and tidy on the ground. His opponent is similar, solid technician. This fight will be very interesting for those who like nice technique.
Farah Hannoun: You’ve played a massive role in the growth of Irish MMA, SBG and Conor McGregor. The impact that you and Conor have had has resulted in a lot of opportunities and a spotlight on the guys at the gym. Does the idea that people have the perception that the SBG guys get “special treatment” or extra opportunities bother you?
John Kavanagh: No, we’ve earned it 😉
Farah Hannoun: You must be really proud, bringing up a talent such as Frans from his IMMAF world champion days to now him getting a title shot at Brave CF, what are your thoughts on Frans as an individual and a fighter?
John Kavanagh: One of few 135lbs in the world with genuine 1 punch KO power. A very good singer and cook too!
Farah Hannoun: You wrote a mega successful book, Win or Learn, which is even a quote that people have been using a lot when competing in MMA. Your best-selling book was even translated to multiple languages and sold internationally which is incredible. Did you expect the book to be so successful when writing it and do you have plans on writing another one someday?
John Kavanagh: No, I thought maybe my mother would buy a few copies and that’d be it haha. I believe almost 50,000 sold worldwide and talk of a movie adaptation. It’s crazy. Maybe one more book when I’m retired.
After his impressive finish over Niko Price at UFC Sao Paulo, Vicente Luque eyeing Darren Till
When Luan Chagas was forced out of his fight versus Niko Price at UFC Sao Paulo, The UFC called Vicente Luque and he happily accepted.
He stepped in on short notice and took out one of the toughest surging welterweights in Niko Price.
He hurt Price with a counter right before locking in one of his favourite submissions, the D’arce choke. This marked Luque’s 5th win in 6 UFC outings making him one of the brightest young stars in the division.
“I wanted to go out there and have an impressive fight,” Luque said.
“I thought that was very important especially that I was coming off a 4 fight win streak then I had a loss so I wanted to keep that momentum. I think I did that and it definitely puts me back where I was before going after those top 15 guys.”
He now turns his attention to a fellow rising star, Darren Till. Till took out Cowboy Cerrone in the first round last month in Gdansk and Luque feels he would match up well with him.
“I would really like to fight Darren Till,” Luque said. “He’s a great striker and his last fight was really impressive against Cowboy. I’m a striker as well and I would love to test my striking and see who the best striker in the division is.”
And should the UFC decide to go a different direction, Luque would be content fighting anyone in the top 15. With 5 wins and 5 finishes in the division, he feels he’s earned a high ranked opponent or a big name.
“I want a top 15 opponent for sure but if they don’t give me that I’ll be looking for someone with a big name,” Luque said. “Guys like Alan Jouban who already have a name and everybody knows who they are. Those are the guys that I want to be fighting.”
Another name Luque is interested in is Colby Covington who fought on the same card as him. Covington took out former title challenger Demian Maia and proceeded to cut a heavy promo, blasting the Brazilian crowd.
Covington’s harsh and controversial comments towards Brazil didn’t sit well for Luque who sees multiple benefits of fighting him.
“I definitely think that was disrespectful not only to Brazilians but to anybody that watches MMA,” Luque said. “I don’t think that’s the posture of an athlete. I don’t take it personally but I would love to fight him no matter what whether he was disrespectful or not because he’s a top contender.”
The welterweight division is arguably the most talked about division. With rising stars such as Darren Till, Kamaru Usman, Colby Covington and Mike Perry, Luque feels like his name should be thrown in the mix too.
“I think I’m getting up there and slowly getting my spot. I’m having good fights and I know what I’m capable of and that’s what I’m trying to show. I’m doing my thing and I feel that my fights speak for themselves.”
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