Following his first-round submission win over Tyron Woodley this past Saturday in the “Fight of the Night,” Luque made it known he wants a piece of Diaz next. He thought there was a decent chance to get his wish, but then three days later, Diaz was booked for a fight against Leon Edwards at UFC 262 on May 15.
A portion of the immediate reaction to Luque’s request for Diaz was based around it being an unrealistic matchup. Luque said the fact Diaz is back and fighting a highly ranked welterweight, however, shows he wasn’t aiming out of his depth.
“Right after I called him out, there were people who loved that callout and people who were saying, ‘You wasted a callout. Nate is never going to come back. He doesn’t look like he’s going to fight again,’” Luque told MMA Junkie. “Then when that fight was announced, I was like, ‘Man, you see? It isn’t such a crazy callout.’
“I knew he was going to come back at some point. I wish it were against me, but I think it’s a great fight. For Nate, it makes sense. Right now, I’m No. 6 (in the UFC rankings). Leon Edwards is No. 3, so that’s the better fight for him.”
If Luque had gotten the offer to fight Diaz, he said he would’ve been ready to go at the drop of a dime. Now that he’s booked, though, it changed the game plan for the Brazilian.
Luque has built himself up to the point at which he’s not looking to take just any name. He’s entrenched himself in the top 10 of one of the deepest weight classes in the sport, and the majority of the names ranked above him already have something planned.
The upside for Luque, however, is that some key fights are on the horizon. Champion Kamaru Usman defends against Jorge Masvidal at UFC 261 on April 24, while Diaz and Edwards clash less than a month later. The 170-pound division will have more clarity within six weeks, and Luque said it would be wise to see where he fits in after everything shakes out.
“I think that’s the move to make,” Luque said. “I think it just makes sense. I had a great fight, I had a really hard training camp for this fight. Even though the fight just lasted one round, the training camp is really where you put in all the work, and that’s where the body needs to heal a little bit. … I’ve got to rest a little bit. My son is going to be born soon, so I’m going to take a little time to take care of that. But I’m evolving and training. I came out of this fight 100 percent, so I’m going to be back training real soon, keep working on my game, developing myself.
“There’s this fight (with Diaz and Edwards) happening. We have the title fight going. I think there are many different possibilities. I’m not totally disappointed to not get that fight, I definitely wanted to fight Diaz, but just the fact he’s going back to activity makes it more realistic that I can get a fight with him eventually. We’ll see how things go.”
Regardless of which top-ranked name comes next, Luque said he’ll be primed for the challenge. His confidence is at an all-time high after beating a former titleholder in Woodley, and Luque thinks his aggressive and stoppage-heavy style of fighting is going to help him match up well against any elite welterweight.
“I think Leon Edwards would be a great test. Colby Covington would be another great guy (to fight),” Luque said. “Because if you look at the champion right now, he is an amazing wrestler. He’s been developing his striking, but he’s an amazing wrestler. So if I want to be ready to beat a guy like that, I have to be ready to face tough competition like Colby, like Leon Edwards that are going to try to do the same thing against me. Just try to wrestle me and eliminate my striking. I feel confident I can fight those guys. Right now I am at the best point of my career where I can use unleash my striking and not worry about if I’m going to go to the ground.”
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