Dominick Reyes will try to remind fans later tonight (Sat., May 1, 2021) at UFC Vegas 25 live on ESPN2/ESPN+ from inside UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nev., that he’s still one of the best light heavyweight fighters in the world today. He’ll meet rising contender Jiri Prochazka in the main event.
It’s unfamiliar territory for Reyes, who started his professional MMA career with a 12-0 record, but “Devastator” has dropped his last two trips to the Octagon. Sure those fights came against former champion Jon Jones and current champion Jan Blachowicz, but Reyes has still seen himself come up short in the most important time of his career.
Luckily, Reyes has identified the issues that have held him back in his last two fights, specifically his recent TKO loss to Blachowicz at UFC 253 back in Sept. 2020.
“Anything that could have gone wrong, went wrong,” Reyes told MMA Fighting about his loss to Blachowicz. “It’s a good learning experience. At the end of the day, it’s a great learning experience. I’m still young in my career. I’m just coming into my prime as a man. I’ve got a lot of fun times ahead of me.
“A lot of people have been recently counting me out as if I died or something. No, I just got knocked down. It is what it is.”
Reyes, who needed just two years in the UFC to lock down a title fight with the legendary Jones, is not one to make excuses. However, the 31-year-old did experience some serious changes in his camp leading up to his last Octagon appearance and believes that may have contributed to his poor performance.
“I tried to change up my style and that wasn’t the best idea,” Reyes explained. “Switched coaches and that wasn’t the best idea. It was just a lot. My mom and dad had COVID, at the time, I couldn’t see them for three months leading up to that fight.
“They’re huge, a gigantic part of my life and who I am and where I draw my power and confidence from. I didn’t show up. It’s on me, obviously. I paid the price. I draw most of my strength from my family and to not have them for three months leading up to the fight, not being able to see them or hug them. I could see them on Facetime and things like that but I couldn’t sit and talk with them or anything. My dad was pretty sick and that was weighing on me.”
Luckily, both of Reyes’ parents recovered from the COVID-19 virus. Unfortunately, Reyes couldn’t win his last fight to give them something to cheer about during the difficult time. It’s something that the young contender will have to learn from and build off as he climbs back up the 205-pound ladder.
“I’m not mad about what happened,” Reyes said about his last loss. “What happened is the way it was supposed to happen. Everything happens for a reason. It gave me the opportunity to grow. Now I’m getting ready to come out a whole new Dom.
“I feel f*cking fantastic. I feel fantastic. I am so ready. I am so freaking ready. I’m back to feeling how I did getting ready for [Chris] Weidman. I want your best version of you. Let’s go, let’s see what you’ve got. I can’t really explain it. I feel fresh. I’ve fallen back in love with the sport. For the last fight, I wasn’t enjoying what I was doing. It felt like a job. It wasn’t the move.”
If Reyes is able to take out Prochazka this weekend in Vegas it will help right the ship entering the second half of 2021. And considering Prochazka is a wild fighter who likes to go for broke from the first bell it should give Reyes the opportunity he needs to capitalize on a mistake and get his first UFC win since Oct. 2019.
“It’s an awesome matchup,” Reyes said. “He’s real exciting or crazy, they’re both interchangeable in his case. He enjoys what he’s doing. It’s going to be great. He enjoys fighting and he’s a really tough guy. I think my experience is going to show in this fight. It’s going to be like this is the UFC, this isn’t RIZIN. No offense to the guys in RIZIN but they’re not at our caliber. They’re not.
“You’re going to see some beautiful work from me. Jiri is going to put up a great fight but it’s not going to be enough. I’m going to come out with my hand raised, on top of the world, ready to take the next step, whatever it may be.”
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 25 fight card HERE, starting with the ESPN2/ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 7 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN2/ESPN+ main card start time at 10 p.m. ET.