After a lifeless three-fight losing skid that saw his fighting future called into serious question, Tyron Woodley came out swinging on Saturday. Unfortunately for the former UFC welterweight champion, red-hot contender Vicente Luque had more than enough to send him packing.
Luque (20-6-1) outslugged an impassioned Woodley (19-7-1) throughout a wild opening round before submitting him late via D'Arce choke in the co-main event of UFC 260 inside the Apex in Las Vegas.
"It was a great fight. I knew Woodley was a legend and a champ," Luque said. "He really hits hard and caught me there but that's what I am going to do. If I get hit hard, I'm going to go for the knockout and the finish."
Although the fact that Woodley, 38, fell to a fourth straight defeat will likely steal the headlines considering the possibility that his UFC career is over, Luque made yet another statement regarding his place in the 170-pound title rankings.
The 29-year-old Luque won his third straight bout, his ninth over the last 10 and his 13th of his previous 15 fights. He also lived up to his reputation as a straight-ahead striker who chases knockouts.
Woodley, who was shockingly passive in recent losses to welterweight elites Kamaru Usman, Gilbert Burns and Colby Covington, opened the fight anything but against Luque. He ran across the cage to attempt a takedown that was stuffed and routinely let his hands go by loading up with huge right hands.
Luque was eventually rocked by a fit of punches, but he countered with an even bigger right hand that left Woodley visibly hurt. A barrage of punches from Luque followed as a wounded Woodley stumbled across the Octagon and was only held up by bumping into the cage.
Yet just as Woodley appeared close to being finished, he landed another right hand to stun Luque. The punch only bought him a handful of seconds, however, as Luque recovered and dropped Woodley with strikes before forcing the tap at 3:56 via choke.
"He took a little of my balance away when he hit me with the overhand but man, I have a hard chin," Luque said. "I try not to use it but I use it because it is there. He was overcommitting a bit on the right hand and I made sure I hit him hard. I trusted that I could get the knockout and when he went down, I knew I had a good D'Arce choke.
"It paid off with a big win. Woodley has a finish for D'Arce so he kind of knows that choke. I heard his corner say to him that he knows how to get out of this so I just squeezed so hard."
After the fight, Luque called out UFC veteran Nate Diaz.
"My style just matches up perfect. I'm going to go forward and punch everyone in the face and try and knock everyone out, every single minute," Luque said. "I think Nate has that same style so let's go."
Can't get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including instant analysis of UFC 260 below.