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“I got to learn a lot of things that he lived and he learned just by being a part of that,” Luque said of being part of Burns’ camp and corner for each of his last several fights, including his breakthrough win over Woodley last spring and his recent loss to Kamaru Usman at UFC 258. “It’s really important because eventually I’m going to be the one fighting for the title, so I can take these lessons and use them for myself.

“I watched Gilbert’s fight with him — I was cornering him — so I could see Woodley fighting right in front of me, and that helps a lot. I also watched a lot of tape on him, not only for this fight, but also back when I was helping Gilbert for his fight, so I think being able to adjust my game — not change who I am, but adjust my tools to suit the kind of game Tyron Woodley brings is the key to winning this fight.”

And while things didn’t work out favorably for his long-time friend and teammate earlier this month, Luque came away from the experience with an even greater, more intimate understanding of what it takes to succeed at the highest levels in this sport.

UFC 260 Embedded: Episode 1 | Episode 2

“At this high level, it’s not so much that the fighters are better or that we’ve got to train harder — we just cannot afford to make the mistakes we used to make in the past,” he said. “Little mistakes? We’re going to pay for that.

“It was really valuable because I’m working my way to the top, I’ve got a big fight coming up, and it’s important for me to learn as much as I can, and if I can learn without having to step in there and learn it through fighting, even better.”

Saturday night, he’ll be the one crossing the threshold into the Octagon, taking up his position across the cage from the former champion, who arrives in Las Vegas on a three-fight slide, facing questions about his future.

While some are ready to write off “The Chosen One,” Luque has no interest in underestimating the 38-year-old veteran.


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