Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Welterweight sluggers Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal will go to war this weekend (Sat., Aug. 6, 2022) at UFC Vegas 59 inside UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Earlier this year, Luque’s violent and excellent four-fight win streak came to a crashing end at the tricky hands and takedowns of Belal Muhammad. Despite the defeat, the No. 6-ranked Brazilian remains in the overall mix simply by being one of the most profoundly violent men on the roster. After a hot start to his UFC career, Neal ran into a wall and was sent tumbling down the rankings by losses to the old guard. Since then, he’s managed to rebound with a close decision win over Santiago Ponzinibbio, hanging onto his position in the rankings as a result.
Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Belal Muhammed (UFC 205), Michael Chiesa (UFC 265), 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: Belal Muhammad (UFC Vegas 51), Stephen Thompson (UFC 244), Leon Edwards (UFC Fight Night 107)
Keys to Victory: Were it not for Charles Oliveira’s rise to greatness, I might argue Luque as the best finisher in the industry. “The Silent Assassin” has absolutely crushing power in his punches, fairly devastating knees and kicks, and a very sneaky submission game that comes into play more than one would expect.
Luque has one of the best left hooks at 170 lbs. It’s tight and powerful, thrown at the correct times with great form. Usually, Luque times his opponent on the counter, waiting to feel their punch on his guard before unleashing his counter hook. He’ll also fire the shot to cut off the cage and catch opponents circling.
Neal is a Southpaw, and a fairly fundamental one at that. He’s accustomed to dodging straight rights and firing back, but often, Southpaws are more open to the left hook, particularly if they don’t love extended trades in the pocket.
Luque has the kickboxing skill to press Neal without getting kicked in the face. If he’s firing his own right leg, throwing crosses to the body, and punctuating combinations with that left hook, he’s going to find his target sooner than later.
Key Wins: Belal Muhammad (UFC Fight Night 143), Santiago Ponzinibbio (UFC 269), Niko Price (UFC 240), Mike Perry (UFC 245), Frank Camacho (UFC 228)
Key Losses: Stephen Thompson (UFC Vegas 17), Neil Magny (UFC Vegas 26), Kevin Holland (Xtreme Knockout 34)
Keys to Victory: Neal is a very athletic Southpaw kickboxer who’s rather difficult to take down. He really excels with the classic Southpaw double threat, firing his left cross like a piston and sneaking in high kicks behind it.
Luque has a cast iron chin, which is a big part of the reason he’s been so consistently successful in wild scraps. That said, Mike Perry is just as durable, but he hit the canvas when Neal kicked him in the face! “Handz of Steel” is no misnomer; Neal can crack just about anyone.
Still, that doesn’t mean Neal should be looking for one-to-one trades with Luque. In order to get the better of these exchanges, Neal has to make the most of his footwork. Everyone knows that Luque is going to pressure, but if Neal can slip and pivot off to the outside, he can use Luque’s forward pressure to take angles and land heavy shots.
Above all else, staying off the fence is essential.
This Welterweight banger decides a Top 10 slot.
Had Luque taken out Belal Muhammad a second time, the Brazilian would be in the immediate title mix right now — whatever that means in the crowded and slow-moving ranks of the Welterweight elite. As it stands, he’s now being forced to defend his position. Luque cannot afford a second consecutive loss, which would eject him from the Top 10 and title mix alike.
Conversely, this is a really major opportunity for Neal considering he’s not far removed for his own pair of losses. Victory here would be the biggest of his career and immediately rebuild momentum for the knockout artist. At the same time, the stakes are high, because defeat would mean three losses in his four most recent trips to the Octagon.
At UFC Vegas 59, Vicente Luque and Geoff Neal will duel in the co-main event. Which man will earn the victory?
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 59 fight card right here, starting with the ESPN/ESPN+ “Prelims” matches, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining main card balance (on ESPN/ESPN+) at 10 p.m. ET.
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