Vicente Luque vs. Joaquin Buckley prediction | UFC on ESPN 54 1

Welterweight standouts collide when Vicente Luque meets Joaquin Buckley this weekend. Luque, who took a year off between August 2022 and August 2023, came back to beat Rafael Dos Anjos and looked to be in career-high0lk form. His next task will be maybe the most athletic 170-pound fighter on the roster.

Buckley is coming off back-to-back wins over Andre Fialho and Alex Morono, the former by headlock TKO and the latter by dominant decision. However, a win over Luque would be by far the biggest in his career and potentially earn him a spot inside the UFC’s top 15.

Fight Odds

Extremely close, oddsmakers have the pair within 3 points at -112 and -115.

  • Vicente Luque: -115 (BetUS)
  • Joaquin Buckley: -112 (BetUS)

Fight Breakdown

Vicente Luque is a well-rounded and dangerous individual. Although he tends to absorb a large amount of strikes in his fights, this is more a testament to the quality of his resume rather than a lack of skill. Luque has fought an incredible amount of top talent, including Rafael dos Anjos, Belal Muhammad (x2), Tyron Woodley, Stephen Thompson, Leon Edwards, Geoff Neal, and Michael Chiesa, among others.

That being said, Luque, since taking a full year off from the sport, seems to have come back a more patient and measured fighter. He spent more time lowering the tempo of the fight against Dos Anjos and spent more time wall wrestling than in previous fights, lending himself to a more responsible style.

At range Luque is fairly text-book, he has a nice jab and slip right cross. He does a good job mixing up his kicks and punches, but he has a particularly nasty front snap kick to the body. This is a key move against someone like Buckley who squares up when he wants to enter the pocket. Likewise, knees down the middle as well as step in elbows and uppercuts will do well to get to the target first if Buckley squares up and wins up bigger hooks coming in. Buckley is probably the faster fighter but Luque the sharper one.

Buckley is extremely explosive. From the outside, he relies on traditional kicks, snapping, and long. He utilizes a lot of footwork and a more bladed stance but immediately squares up and looks to peek-a-boo his way in, springing upwards with heavy hands. His corner will even call on him to do the “Tyson” when they look for him to make this switch up. He is very good at slipping and rolling through shots on the way in, which is why, although uppercuts are needed, it’s going to be difficult for Luque to land straights and hooks moving backward.

Buckley isn’t particularly known for his strength of endurance but it’s a feat that he can maintain his pace with such a fast and explosive style throughout three rounds. Buckley also has a great blast double; however, he does not chase a wrestling-heavy approach. He will shoot to mix up the rhythm of the fight, keep his opponents guessing and to make a big impact on the scorecards, but he doesn’t usually hold position or try to advance too readily.

It would be a massive risk for him to engage in many grappling exchanges with the jiu-jitsu ace in Luque, who has considerably improved his wrestling as well. Luque should be able to stuff takedowns and threaten Buckley with guillotines and darce chokes as well as reverse position if he finds himself on the mat. Luque does a good job of using his submissions to reverse and advance even if he cannot get the actual tap.


I believe we will see the best version of Vicente Luque. If his performance against Dos Anjos was any indication, Luque who was already a talented ranked fighter, is showing his experience more and coming in more responsible in his game.

Buckley is always one shot away from a win at all points in the fight, but I think that Vicente Luque can weather those storms and find his counters, and even better intercept with shorter shots en route to a win. I don’t see much grappling in this fight unless Buckley makes a mistake but if he does Luque has even more tools at his disposal. The odds are close which makes it an even more valuable pick in my eyes.

Pick: Vicente Luque to win (-115 at BetUS)

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