Whether by luck or by circumstance, next Saturday’s UFC 249 card from the VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida is set to host a pair of high-flying welterweight rematches with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone (36-14, 1 NC) eager to avenge his 2013 lightweight title eliminator with Anthony “Showtime” Pettis (22-10) and Brazil’s Vincente “The Silent Assassin” Luque (17-7-1) looking to upend Niko “The Hybrid” Price (14-3, 1 NC) yet again. Let’s take a deep dive into each fight and where exactly they fit into the landscape of the division.
In January of 2013, both Cerrone and Pettis were in the middle of a packed lightweight division, ranked #8 and #13 respectively. Each had garnered star status from their time under the WEC banner with Cerrone sporting a 6-3, 1 NC record, boasting two unsuccessful title bids against Benson Henderson while Pettis was able to craft an even more impressive 5-1 tally, headlining the promotion’s final card earning gold at 155 lbs with his win over the aforementioned Henderson.
The bout was electric, beginning with “Cowboy”‘s attempt to tap gloves to begin the first round and Pettis shaking him off. Two minutes and six seconds in Pettis hit Cerrone with a left kick to the body, following up with the same strike less than 30 seconds later and punching his ticket to not just a victory.
Such a pivotal first meeting saw “Showtime” then earn a rematch with Benson Henderson, once again defeating his now rival and going on to cement his legacy as a two-promotion champion. Cerrone would alternate wins and losses against KJ Noons and Rafael dos Anjos before flipping the script and putting together an eight-fight win streak from 2013-2015, once again re-matching dos Anjos, this time for lightweight gold, and falling short.
Cerrone-Pettis 2 comes at a pivotal spot in each fighter’s respective careers, with “Cowboy” trending on a three-fight losing streak and Pettis on a four-win, eight loss skid since losing his belt in 2015. Up a division, and over seven years later, we’ll see former rivals turned friends battle it out at UFC 249 to further cement their Hall of Fame legacies.
When Vincente Luque and Niko Price first met in 2017, Price was an undefeated fighter at 10-0, 1 NC, with nine of his wins coming by way of finish (excluding his KO victory over Alex Morono which was overturned to a no-contest due to a positive test for marijuana), while Vincente Luque was looking to rebound following a decision loss at the hands of Leon Edwards.
With flash and flair on both sides of the Octagon, the fight served as the featured prelim of UFC Fight Night 119: Machida vs. Brunson and seemed a measuring stick of things to come. Luque was able to push the pace in the first round, punishing the front leg of Price with low kicks and establishing his jab early. In the second round, Price came out swinging but was then put back into the pattern that Luque was able to set-up in the first. A powerful right hand would set up a beautiful combination sending “The Hybrid” to the mat, while the Brazilian would follow up with a wild barrage of ground-and-pound before grabbing the neck and securing the D’Arce choke victory.
Now, in 2020, both fighters will meet under familiar circumstances as Luque’s victory over Price set up a six-fight win streak that was ended by Stephen Thompson last November, meanwhile Price has managed a 4-2 in a “finish or be finished” approach in all six outings. For “The Hybrid”, a win would likely mean a number next to his name in the rankings as his opponent currently sits #13 in the promotion’s system while for Luque, a restart to the top could prove fruitful with another victory over Florida’s Price.
With two title fights headlining the first UFC card in almost two months, be sure to stay dialled in with Fight Night Picks!