Welterweight action fighters Vicente Luque and Bryan Barberena met in an under-the-radar match-up on the main card of tonight’s (Sun., February 17, 2019) UFC on ESPN 1 from the Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona.
It did not fail to deliver perhaps the best slugfest of the young year.
The War Begins
In fact, it could just be the early frontrunner for 2019’s “Fight of the Year.” The action started off early and often. Luque landed some pinpoint shots up against the fence:
Not to be outdone, ‘Bam Bam’ wobbled Luque with a pinpoint punch of his own:
A Smoking Second
But the TUF veteran recovered rapidly, scrambling to take Barberena’s back. He ended the frenetic opening round by attempting a D’arce choke.
As amazing as the first round was, however, the second was even more action-packed. Barberena came out with a big attack of strikes:
The second featured an unreal amount of back-and-forth shots. Both men just stood in the pocket and traded huge power punches. Luque landed the harder shots but Barberena landed some big ones of his own and had the volume. Luque stunned Barberena with a big knee late in the round and seemed to have the edge.
There’s a definite case to be made that this was the best UFC round of the year so far. The two warriors embraced in the center of the cage to start the final round:
An Unbelievable Ending
The third round, while not as insane as the second, was still unreal. Barberena threw an unprecedented amount of volume as he would not go down from a tiring Luque’s shots. But Luque remained undeterred, countering Barberena’s many combinations with huge, thudding power shots.
The action was hot and heavy until the very end, when Luque landed another monster knee down the middle to drop Barberena. He followed with an onslaught of strikes to finish the bout with only six seconds remaining:
With the victory, Luque becomes the first fighter to knock out the iron-chinned Barberena. The bout was unofficially the fight with the most significant strikes in UFC welterweight history. The UFC posted that it totaled 292 significant strikes between the two warriors:
Luque called out for a Top 10-ranked opponent next. He deserves just that going ahead, but for now, he’ll have to settle for a ‘Fight of the Night’ bonus. And he may have already earned 2019’s ‘Fight of the Year’ as well.