Marc RaimondiESPN Staff Writer3 Minute Read
Vicente Luque returned to the cage Saturday and pulled out his first victory since suffering a brain hemorrhage in a knockout loss in 2022.
Luque defeated Rafael dos Anjos via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 48-47) in the welterweight main event of UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas. Luque smartly used strategic grappling, wrestling and clinching against the cage to outwork dos Anjos, the former UFC lightweight champion.
“I came back stronger than ever,” Luque said in his postfight interview. “I beat a former champion in his game.”
On Aug. 6, 2022, Luque was knocked out by Geoff Neal and was later diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) needed extra medical documentation in order for Luque to be cleared to compete. He was licensed two weeks ago.
“For me, it’s a miracle to be here,” Luque said. “A lot of people know what happened to me a year ago. I never feared anything, but I feared not being able to do this again.”
Coming in, ESPN had dos Anjos ranked No. 10 in the world at lightweight. He made his return to welterweight in his last bout.
Dos Anjos had success early, landing some hard straight left hands from the southpaw stance and a big Superman elbow. Luque was able to recover, counter a takedown attempt and land some hard ground-and-pound while dos Anjos was on his hands and knees.
Luque’s grappling and wrestling success continued throughout the fight, so much so that dos Anjos’ corner removed the fighter’s ankle sleeves after the third round because they felt Luque was using them to take dos Anjos down. Luque was active with submission attempts throughout and bloodied dos Anjos with punches, too.
“In the first round, I was afraid of getting hit,” Luque said. “It had been a year without fighting. I didn’t know how I would react.”
Luque landed a career-high eight takedowns, the second-most dos Anjos had allowed. Former UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, a high-level wrestler, had 12 against dos Anjos in 2018.
Luque (22-9-1) snapped a two-fight losing streak. The Brazilian-Chilean fighter, who trains out of Florida, has won five of seven overall. Luque, 31, said he hopes to now be back in the title mix. He was +500 to win via decision, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Dos Anjos (32-15) beat Bryan Barberena in his welterweight return last December via second-round submission. The Brazilian-born fighter had won three of his past four bouts. Dos Anjos, 38, held the UFC lightweight title in 2015 and 2016.