Welterweight strikers Vicente Luque and Niko Price will do battle in a fascinating clash in the featured preliminary bout at UFC Fight Night 119 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Brazilian striker Luque took the call to step in with around 20 days’ notice to face Price after the American’s original opponent, Luan Chagas, was forced off the card due to injury.
If anything, it’s given us an even more entertaining scrap, as two exciting young strikers look to go toe to toe in a bid to move a few rungs up the ultra-competitive welterweight ladder.
Something’s gotta give
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Luque has six losses in his 18-fight MMA career, but none of them have come via TKO. He’s a well-rounded fighter, with five knockouts and five submissions on his record and just one win coming by way of decision.
His last outing ended in defeat, as he found himself outstruck and outgrappled by rising British contender Leon "Rocky" Edwards at UFC Fight Night 107 in London in March.
On the flip side, Price has specialized in TKO finishes throughout his career, with seven of his 10 wins coming by way of KO or TKO. With two submission wins also on his record, only one fighter facing Price has ever made it to the judges’ scorecards.
Price is undefeated, with a record of 10-0, 1 NC – his only blemish being a no-contest after his knockout win over Alex Morono was expunged after he tested positive for marijuana.
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On paper, this is a battle between two exciting welterweight strikers, but the momentum is all in one corner heading into this weekend’s bout.
Despite this, the UK’s bookmakers have Luque set as the betting favorite, with the best available price -146 for the Brazilian and a tempting +130 for Price.
To be honest, I’m shocked.
The Price is right
Luque may have the home-field advantage with the fight taking place in Brazil, but Price is the bigger, stronger man with a longer reach, more concussive punch power and a better wrestling game. He’s also undefeated and coming off a hugely impressive first-round stoppage of the respected Alan Jouban in his last outing.
We picked "The Hybrid" on this very site ahead of that bout, and we’re picking him again here against a lesser opponent.
Luque will keep it competitive for as long as he can, but the smart move here is to back Price to not just win, but also hand Luque the first TKO loss of his career.
PICK: Niko Price by TKO/KO stoppage
[Main image credit: © Miguel Tovar-USA TODAY Sports]