Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson will battle submission ace Wilson Reis TONIGHT (April 15, 2017) at UFC on FOX 24 inside Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.
There’s not much left for Johnson to accomplish. The 125-pound roost-ruler has his eyes set on breaking Anderson Silva’s title defense record, which frankly seems like a matter of inevitability at this point. Nevertheless, Johnson will have to take the cage and turn away a hungry contender tonight, which always carries some risk. However, has Reis earned his title shot? Ehhhh. He may not have any Top 5 wins, but the grappler is at least on a three-fight win streak. He’s also a 10-year veteran with a great deal of experience, so there’s a chance Reis has a trick up his sleeve in store for “Mighty Mouse.”
Not a great chance, but ... Let’s take a closer look at the keys to victory for each man anyway:
Key Wins: Joe Benavidez (UFC 152, UFC on Fox 9), John Dodson (UFC 191, UFC on Fox 6), Ian McCall (UFC on FX 3), Henry Cejudo (UFC 197)
Key Losses: Dominick Cruz (UFC on Versus 6)
Keys to Victory: There’s a reason Demetrious Johnson hasn’t lost in more than five years. To identify a weak area, you have to zoom in pretty close to minute details, as there’s no large gap in his game.
He’s damn good everywhere.
In this bout, Johnson simply wants to avoid being put on his back. Reis is a dangerous Brazilian jiu-jitsu player, but he excels from top position more than anywhere else. On his back, Reis is far less threatening, and Johnson can definitely control his opponent from there. More than anything else, Johnson should attempt to push a hard pace. His opponent has slowed down significantly in three round fights, and Johnson has 25 minutes to work here. If he attacks with his usual blend of takedowns and kickboxing but amps up the volume even further, there’s a very good chance he forces a finish of some kind late in the fight.
Key Wins: Dustin Ortiz (UFC on FOX 18), Hector Sandoval (UFC 201), Scott Jorgensen (UFC 179)
Key Losses: Jussier Formiga (UFC Fight Night 67)
Keys to Victory: Reis is a jiu-jitsu specialist first and foremost. In each of his UFC wins, Reis has relied on his ground game to secure the win even if his wrestling and striking have improved along the way.
Reis has absolutely nothing to lose, and he needs to fight like it. A big part of his recent success has been mere confidence, as Reis’ faith and aggression with his kickboxing has opened up his takedown game.
From his Southpaw stance, Reis needs to walk Johnson down and fire off his cross and kicks. If at any point he sees an opening for the takedown, Reis should dive for it. Additionally, Reis has pulled deep half in the past in pursuit of the takedown finish, and that would be a wise risk here. Because of his conditioning — or lack thereof — Reis likely has to finish this bout early. If he goes balls to the wall immediately and takes every possible risk, he may get beaten up, but he also could shock the world.
Bottom Line: It’s another Flyweight title fight between Johnson and a very likely out-matched contender.
For Johnson, it’s another name for his resume. He’s already defeated the division’s most impressive athletes, so each new face is more about building his record and giving the contender their outside shot of making something happen. Johnson’s legacy is established — another title defense doesn’t do much to change it.
Meanwhile, an upset would be shocking, but at least “Mighty Mouse” would receive a rematch.
This is Reis’ big moment. At this point, the path of fringe contenders challenging Johnson’s crown is established: they jump up from the “Prelims” to a main card/event slot, lose, and then quickly return to the bottom half of cards. If Reis comes up short, he can expect that fate. If not, Reis has done the impossible. He’ll likely have to do it again in an immediate rematch, but his legacy as the man who dethroned Johnson — even if only for an instant — would be set in stone.
Tonight at UFC on FOX 24, Demetrious Johnson will look to defend his title once more opposite Wilson Reis. Will he continue to dominate his peers?