A significant clash of welterweight contenders headlines the latest UFC Fight Night event when Vicente Luque takes Belal Muhammad in a rematch. Once the dust settles at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, either Luque or Muhammad will be poised to strike the division’s elite.
Luque (21-7-1) deals in violence. The bonus hunter has finished 13 of his 14 UFC fights and enters Saturday night with consecutive finishes over Michael Chiesa (D’Arce choke), Tyron Woodley (D’Arce choke), Randy Brown (KO knee and punches) and Niko Price (doctor stoppage). The American-born Brazilian fighter enters the Octagon with the knowledge that he can beat his opponent. Luque and Muhammad previously fought in 2016. It took Luque a touch over one minute to stop Muhammad in their last encounter. If his recent success is any indication, Luque is just as capable now of delivering a lethal blow.
“I prefer to forget the first fight because it was short notice, I fought two minutes, and that was it,” Luque told reporters at this week’s media day. “If I look at that fight and think about it, I’m going to underestimate Belal and that’s something I cannot do because he has evolved and he has great wins.”
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Muhammad (20-3, 1 NC) completed a career-best performance against Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson in December, dominating the former UFC welterweight title challenger. The scorecards reflected Muhammad’s overwhelming pressure, as he achieved two 30-26 scorecards and one 30-25. “Remember the Name” is undefeated in his last seven fights as he seeks to avenge his loss to Luque. Leaning on an exhausting pressure game, Muhammad has transformed into an extremely potent fighter unrecognizable to the one who fought Luque six years ago.
“To me, it’s a whole different fight. It’s been years since that fight. I’ve had 12 fights since then. It’s like he’s fighting a new opponent and I’m fighting a new opponent,” Muhammad said at media day. “That’s the way I look at it. There isn’t really much I can take from that first fight except for motivation. It pushes me. Knowing the feeling it gave me that fight, what that loss meant, I’m never going to feel that again.”
Other fighters worth keeping an eye on are the always exciting Miguel Baeza, who fights Andre Fialho on the main card, and prolific submission specialist Pat Sabatini, a significant favorite over opponent TJ Laramie.
Here’s the fight card for UFC London with the latest odds from Caesars Sportsbook.
UFC Fight Night card, odds
|Vicente Luque -170||Belal Muhammad +145||Welterweight|
|Gadzhi Omargadzhiev -135||Caio Borralho +115||Middleweight|
|Miguel Baeza -170||Andre Fialho +145||Welterweight|
|Mayra Bueno Silva -490||Wu Yanan +370||Women’s bantamweight|
|Pat Sabatini -490||TJ Laramie +370||Featherweight|
|Mounir Lazzez -200||Ange Loosa +170||Welterweight|
UFC Fight Night viewing information
Date: April 16 | Start time: 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: UFC Apex — Las Vegas, Nevada
Vicente Luque vs. Belal Muhammad: This one is a coin toss for me. Luque and Muhammad have each improved tremendously and should be considered meaningful tests for UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman. Muhammad seriously elevated his stock by washing over “Wonderboy” like a tsunami. Luque has only gotten better at finishing opponents as the quality of opposition improved. Luque is still susceptible to strikes and generally only loses to superior strikers who can keep him on the outside. Muhammad presents plenty of volume but, to date, hasn’t packed a serious punch. It is entirely possible that Muhammad will double up on his recent gameplan by grounding Luque, suffocating him with top control and feeding him ground-and-pound. That being said, my gut says that Luque’s dynamic striking and submission game will find an opening. Luque via KO2