Now that Dominick Reyes has officially claimed the next shot at UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones the undefeated contender can breathe a deep sigh of relief.
Reyes, 29, was hoping to parlay his recent knockout victory over former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman this past October into a future bout with Jones, but fellow light heavyweight contender Corey Anderson, who is coming off a TKO win over Johnny Walker, was trying to spoil those plans.
Luckily for Reyes, UFC president Dana White stuck to his guns, ignored Anderson’s cry for a title fight, and awarded the next shot at Jones to the man known as “Devastator.” Reyes is obviously happy with the promotion’s decision, but the young contender knew nothing was certain until the contracts were signed.
“You never really know, to be honest with you,” Reyes told MMA Junkie. “You can only control things you can control. That’s all I really focused on. I can control what I do in this fight. I can control how I live my life. I can control how I react. But I can’t control what other people do or say.
“I tried not to concern myself too much with the goings-ons of other people. I just focused on what I can do and fight the best I possibly can.”
Reyes, who has amassed a 6-0 record since his Octagon debut back in 2017, isn’t the biggest of stars at 205 pounds, but he remains one of the best finishers. So while other contenders try to talk their way into stardom and an eventual UFC title shot, Reyes has let his fighting do the talking.
“I’m a good fighter, I’m a good athlete,” Reyes said. “I’m where I’m supposed to be. I’m in the upper echelon of the fighters. For me, the hard part in my career has been finding that thing that makes me relatable to the fans. Finding that thing that is going to get people really excited about. I’ve found that knocking people out helps.”
While Reyes and Jones have remained somewhat cordial over the past month, that may change leading up to their fight early next year. Reyes has already been ridiculed by Jones for reaching out and showing “fake respect,” but the undefeated contender seems unfazed by the champ’s claims.
“I think his comments are that he’s just confused,” Reyes said. “He doesn’t know how to take me. He hasn’t met me, I’ve never met him. He doesn’t know whether I’m being cocky or what. I have a tremendous amount of a respect for Jon – a huge amount of respect for Jon. Especially in the cage as a fighter and as a champion. As a person? Not as much.
“But he’s still Jon Jones. He’s still the greatest ever. Pound-for-pound number one, right now. If I fight him, it’s huge. It’s this huge opportunity to fight the best fighter ever. I’m aware of what he is. I have a tremendous amount of respect for him. It doesn’t mean when I get in the cage I don’t have a tremendous amount of respect for him. We’re fighting. You’re not my friend.
Reyes continued, “I don’t care – I don’t care who you are or what you did before that. This moment is all that matters and your past means zero to me.”
Jones vs. Reyes is scheduled to take place on Feb. 8 live on ESPN+ PPV from inside Toyota Center in Houston, Texas.
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