Vicente Luque is as seasoned as they come, but there was nothing that could help him get ready for a teammate’s most recent fight.
Luque (18-7-1 MMA, 11-3 UFC) cornered friend and teammate Gilbert Burns for first UFC championship fight in attempt to capture the welterweight title from a familiar face: friend and former teammate Kamaru Usman.
It was an unusual situation that dominated the headlines going into the UFC 258 main event in February.
“I was nervous because I had never seen two teammates fight in front of me,” Luque told MMA Junkie. “I had never lived through that, especially two of my teammates fighting. That was a different experience and that was really something I had never lived before. I didn’t think anything could go wrong, but I was kind of like, ‘Man, this is really going to happen.’”
Luque trained with both Usman and Burns for many years under the tutelage of Henri Hooft in South Florida. Usman took his training to Colorado with Trevor Wittman when the talk of a fight with Burns strengthened. It was an amicable split.
Although it was a strange situation, Luque didn’t think twice about cornering Burns – but he did clear the air first with Usman.
“Me and Kamaru are definitely friends, but at a different level than me and Gilbert,” Luque said. “I would say me and Gilbert are more like brothers. We’ve always trained together. We’ve always helped each other for every single fight. Sometimes he comes here to Brazil and trains with me at my team and stays at my house. Sometimes when I go to Sanford MMA, I stay at his house. Our families have a great relationship. We’re like bothers.
“Kamaru is a great friend. We trained a lot. We were on ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ together. We learned a lot from each other and it was hard to have this situation. I just felt I had to be there for Gilbert and I let Kamaru know. I sent him a message and I let him know, ‘Hey, I’m going to be helping Gilbert out with this.’ But that wouldn’t change, at least on my side, my relationship with Kamaru. If he needed me for another training camp in some other moment, I would be there for him and he knows my relationship with Gilbert. He knows that we’re always there for each other. I don’t think he saw it as a bad thing. It’s just things that we’ve got to do. It’s business in the fight game, and at the end of the fight everyone was cool with it. It’s just how it is and I have a good relationship with both guys.”
Despite everyone keeping the fight all business, it was still a peculiar situation – especially once the cage door locked.
“Once they both stepped in the cage and Bruce Buffer was announcing the fight, I was looking at it and that’s when I realized that fighting is different than other sports,” Luque said. “In other sports, you have teammates that are going to go against each other, but in a competitive standpoint – it’s different when they’re not going to hurt each other. But in fighting, that’s what we’re going to do to each other, and to see two guys that were teammates and friends also, because they still remains friends … and fighters are different because we can put all that aside and still try to go in there and hurt the other guy just for the competitiveness, to be the best guy in the world.
“It was kind of intense for me, but it was good for me because I was seeing what we were doing and why people really look at us and admire us because we do something very few people in the world can do.”