The UFC’s light heavyweight division has been very top heavy over the past couple of years and the search for new contenders hasn’t produced many results. But Dominick Reyes is aiming to change that. Since he was signed by the UFC in June of 2016, Reyes has gone 3-0 with three first round finishes including a performance of the night bonus for his debut, a knockout of Joachim Christensen 29 seconds into the first round.
Those victories earned “The Devastator” Reyes a spot in the UFC’s light heavyweight rankings. Reyes is currently ranked twelfth in the division. With his impressive performances, Reyes has had a hard time getting a fight. Originally, he planned on fighting on August 4 in his hometown of Los Angeles but couldn’t find a willing opponent.
“I was very bummed, it was a good opportunity basically in my hometown, fighting right back where it all started. Right across the street, right after fights at the U of MMA (amateur promotion whom Reyes fought for) we’d go on the balcony and like, just like, I’m going to fight there one day. It’s still going to happen, but not as soon as I’d hoped.”
Reyes was almost able to sneak onto the card when Alexander Gustafsson needed an opponent but the day before the call he got a treatment for an injury and wasn’t able to take the fight.
Without a fight on the card he wanted, Reyes took to Twitter to call out the ranked fighters in his division. No one responded to him, then he saw Ovince St. Preux ask for a fight and he said yes online. It still took quite a while to get the fight done though.
“It might’ve been like two months. I said it almost right after my fight. I didn’t hear anything.”
But it did get done and Reyes is happy about that.
“Everything kind of panned out, everything worked itself out and I have literally the most exciting fight of my career coming up.”
The fight with the seventh ranked St. Preux will take at UFC 229 on October 6. The fight is between two former division I football players, St. Preux played defensive end at Tennessee and Reyes played safety at Stony Brook, Reyes joked that safeties have the brains while the defensive ends are the brawn.
“I’m expecting him to be a little bit stronger but I’m going to be much faster…and smarter.”
The fight also takes place on the biggest card of the year, which is headlined by McGregor vs. Khabib. Reyes plans on capitalizing on the exposure and earning more fans.
“It’s my show as well, but its known as UFC 229: Conor McGregor’s return, but I’m going to electrify the fans and hopefully pick up a bunch more.”
But more importantly Reyes says this is a fight to see where he belongs in the division.
“It’s time to see where I stand in the top ten. See if I’m going to be in the top ten, the top five for the rest of my career or not. This will be a good stepping stone, jump off point for me as far as knowing where I stand.”
Reyes isn’t making any changes in his training for this camp, he is spending a bit of time in Colorado at Team Elevation to get in rounds with heavyweight top contender Curtis Blaydes and then spending the rest of his time with his head coach, UFC veteran Joe Stevenson.
The only change in his preparation has been the opportunity to train with UFC legend Dan Henderson and current UFC fighter Smilin’ Sam Alvey. His coach, Stevenson recently became a part of Henderson’s gym which has allowed Reyes to learn and spar with some of the best fighters in the world. He even took an H-Bomb (sparring version) which he thought was one of the coolest things ever.
“He hit me with an H-Bomb when we were sparring and then he showed me it, so, that was awesome. Getting hit by the H-Bomb period was cool but then to pick it up after the fact was way cooler.”
“It was funny, cause he hit me then I started smiling, I was like dude the H-Bomb, that was awesome! He looked at me like “what’s wrong with you?” I was geeking out for a minute there and it was funny, it was good.”
With training camp shaping up exactly how he’d like it to, Reyes believes it will lead to another early finish.
“I can see myself finishing it in the first or second, just as always. I see some holes in his game that very much plays to my strengths. We’ll so it goes, worst case scenario I push my gas tank on him and make him gas out.”
Not only does he believe he will get the win, but Reyes believes it will be his breakout performance.
“There is legacy riding on this one and I couldn’t be more excited.”
“I’m just feeling like everything is lined up, it’s my time, let’s do it.”
The legacy he wants is quite simple, to be the best light heavyweight ever.
“As of this point, I’m aiming to be the best ever light heavyweight, I’m undefeated, there’s no reason at this point why I can’t finish my career undefeated.”
And this is the type of fight that Reyes thinks will help put him on the path to be the best ever.
“As far as legacy, fighting guys like OSP is huge, you know, he is very well accomplished in the sport, he’s fought everyone. If I beat OSP, my name is forever in there as well, in the mix. He’s not like an old legend on the way out, he’s actually looking better than he did a year and a half ago, in my opinion. I think he’s improving, I feel like I’m getting one of the best versions of OSP. If I go out there and handle my business and take care of him, people will have no choice but to see me as a legitimate threat for many years to come.”
If he wins this fight, Reyes will be thought of as a possible title contender, he thinks if he wins this fight, he might be one win away from a title shot.
“Win this fight, jump into the top ten, maybe even the top five, depending on my performance and then fight another fight, a big fight, win that and then fight for the title.”
You also might find that he will be a bit more vocal about what he wants, except he plans on being respectful about it because he has people who look up to him.