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UFC 253 preview: Dominick Reyes, Jan Blachowicz forced to reinvent light heavyweight division

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Dominick Reyes will fight fellow top 205-pound contender Jan Blachowicz for the UFC light heavyweight title, recently vacated by Jon Jones, in the UFC 253 pay-per-view (PPV) co-main event this Sat. night (Sept. 26, 2020) inside Flash Forum on “Fight Island” in Abu Dhabi.

Based on the lack of hype, I’m not sure anyone cares.

I know that sounds like a shitty thing to say considering the talent involved, and make no mistake about it, both Reyes and Blachowicz are talented. You don’t climb to No. 1 and No. 3 in the world, respectively, without proving yourself multiple times along the way.

They’re just not Jones.

And that’s not to suggest it was all high fives and butt slaps when “Bones” was ruling the light heavyweight roost. He was in the headlines for his personal troubles as much as he was for his in-cage accomplishments. The point is, Jones was never boring.

There was also something fun about watching a bunch of 205-pound squires try to pull the sword from the proverbial stone. A few of them got close, like Reyes and Thiago Santos before him, but in the end their quest for knighthood would be denied.

One of the things that hurts Reyes in terms of popularity is the fact that he's never really done anything special inside the cage. Combat sports is different from MLB where the only thing people remember is getting the win and not how mediocre you played before the final out.

What’s his biggest win to date?

Chris Weidman and Jared Cannonier are both middleweights and you can argue “The Devastator” got a gift in his decision win over Volkan Oezdemir, the only fighter Reyes has beaten who is currently ranked in the Top 15. Let that sink in for a moment.

You can file a similar complaint against Blachowicz, who like Reyes, worked over a couple of aging middleweights during his latest ascent. Knocking out a shot Luke Rockhold and grinding down a 40 year-old Ronaldo Souza is not exactly the stuff of legend.

The Pole also has a history of coming up short in the big spot.

I’m not sad that Jones is gone. As much as I liked having him around, there are much more exciting fights available in the heavyweight division. Perhaps that’s a reflection of the current 205-pound weight class, which makes Reyes and Blachowicz less to blame (but still part of the problem) when it comes to the lack of hype surrounding this weekend's co-main event.

Maybe a thunderous knockout or bone-crunching submission can help change that.

MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 253 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+/ESPN2 “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN+/ESPN2 at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.

To see the complete UFC 253 fight card and line up click here. Fore more news and notes ahead of this weekend’s “Adesanya vs. Costa” event click here.