Las Vegas, NV — Welterweight Vicente Luque makes his return to action in the UFC Vegas 78 main event against Rafael dos Anjos this weekend.
Things could have played out much different. Luque could not be fighting at all, in fact, after being diagnosed with a brain bleed following his Geoff Neal bout a year ago.
“That was definitely unfortunate, but I was 100% blessed to be able to recover very well,” Luque (21-9-1) told media outlets including Cageside Press during Thursday’s UFC Vegas 78 media day. “Since the first day after the fight when I got the news, they did all the testing, all the exams, everything went well, my body was recovering.”
The UFC and his own manager were “always with me in this process,” added Luque. “Trying to get the best information for me, to make sure that I was going to get fully recovered and be able to compete. And that’s what’s going to happen now. I’m back, I’m 100%. I would even say I’m even better than 100%. I feel a much better fighter than I was before. So yeah I’m definitely blessed.”
For his first fight in a year, Luque faces dos Anjos, a former lightweight champ and welterweight title challenger. “That fight is amazing for me,” Luque said, admitting that he had no idea who he would face for his return fight, though he had been eyeing the top 10. “I never thought about RDA, because I wasn’t sure if he was ever going to fight at welterweight again, or if he was going to stay at lightweight.”
Luque calls it the “perfect fight” for him, “a former champion, a guy that I looked up to during my career. Definitely he’s a guy that I want to fight, and main event, couldn’t be better. Five rounds for us to go and put on a great show.”
As much as there’s a big fight to look forward to, it’s impossible not to dwell on the seriousness of a brain bleed in combat sports. But Luque was initially confident he’d fight again, though doubts crept in later in the recovery process.
“The first reaction, I wasn’t really, I don’t know why in a way, I felt like it could happen. Just because I’ve never been knocked out, and Geoff hits hard,” recalled Luque. When the hospital took a long time to release him following that August 2022 fight, Luque knew something was up. “At that point, I was kind of relaxed, and I was confident that I was going to get better.”
After doing more exams and seeing neurologists, and specifically taking tests to see if he could fight again, that’s when Luque became concerned. “That got me worried. Because never in my life I thought that something could take this away suddenly. Suddenly I’m not going to do what I love anymore.”
“So yeah, at that point I was kind of worried, but thank God every single exam they made just came back, ‘okay you’re getting better,’ then ‘okay everything is healed.'” Wisely taking six months off from sparring, Luque’s last three exams showed no sign of the brain bleed, not even scarring. “That’s amazing. It got me worried, but having faith in God and knowing that things were going to be okay kind of got me through the whole process.”
Watch the full UFC Vegas 78 media day appearance by Vicente Luque above.