Dominick ‘The Devastator’ Reyes has experienced a timely rise through the ranks of the UFC’s light heavyweight division since his first walk under the organization’s banner back in 2017. In less than three years, the California native has picked up five straight wins, retaining a perfect record and moving to 11-0. This Friday in Boston, Reyes makes his headlining debut against former UFC middleweight best Chris Weidman, with a victory almost guaranteeing the 29-year-old a title tilt against Jon ‘Bones’ Jones.
The Hesperia born striker has found instant success in the promotion since his move from LFA two years ago, and has outmatched many at light heavyweight with his natural athletic ability. After college, Reyes embarked on an expedition for NFL inroads. and despite failing to be drafted, the line-backer displayed some eye-catching performances under the Seawolves banner, crediting his impressive athleticism to his American football days.
So far in the promotion, Reyes has dispatched Joachim Christensen, Jeremy Kimball, recent middleweight mover Jared Cannonier, one-time interim title challenger Ovince Saint-Preux and in a narrow victory, edged out former light heavyweight championship chaser Volkan Oezdemir. If we take into consideration Swiss striker Oezdemir’s successful takedown, the judges decision to hand the California born Reyes a split decision is quite questionable. In terms of total strikes, Oezdemir edged out Reyes by a single strike, but any judge worth their salt must take the successful grappling display from Oezdemir into consideration.
Against Ovince Saint-Preux, Reyes was once more forced to the canvas but in terms of output, clearly out-landed the Texan over their three round showing. Both the previously mentioned Oezdemir and Saint-Preux are consensus adept strikers who rarely pose wrestling threats to their respective opponents. Sure, OSP has landed eight separate submissions in his lengthy career, and incredibly, four Von Flue chokes, but he is rarely the one to initiate these grappling exchanges.
Friday’s opponent Chris Weidman on the other hand, is a far superior wrestler than anybody Reyes has faced before. In my Fighter Profile feature on the former middleweight champion, I outlined the often forgotten grappling prowess of the Serra-Longo product, who has but a beating on the likes of Vitor Belfort and Kelvin Gastelum from top control.
Another factor in this matchup is of course, it’s Weidman’s first occasion at light heavyweight. Reyes poses quite an interesting striking puzzle for Weidman, who has dropped four knockout losses in his last five outings, taking some significant punishment in each defeat. Reyes must not only mitigate the takedown attempts from Weidman, but must counter these shots, with strikes of his own. Granted, Reyes isn’t going to land a flying-knee finish like Yoel Romero did at UFC 205, but he must offer offensive output when Weidman level changes.