As the UFC returns to Fight Island this Saturday for UFC 253, it will mark the beginning of a new era at light heavyweight.
For the first time since 2011, someone other than Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier will be crowned the undisputed light heavyweight champion as Dominick Reyes takes on Jan Blachowicz in the co-main event.
Many believe however that this fight is champion vs challenger anyway. Reyes took on Jon Jones in what turned out to be his final 205lbs title defence back in February and many believe he won. After landing more strikes on Jones than anyone in history and managing to keep up the pace for almost the entire 25 minutes, the official decision was unanimous in favour of the champion.
Many called for an immediate rematch between the two but after months of negotiations between Jones and the UFC, he chose to vacate the belt and move up to heavyweight for a potential showdown with Stipe Miocic or Francis Ngannou.
That leaves the 205lbs throne unattended and Reyes is ready to step up and claim the spot he feels is his already. A fight against Blachowicz will be a tough test, with the Polish fighter coming off the back of seven wins from his last eight fights with his only defeat coming to former title challenger Thiago Santos.
With Reyes’ fantastic boxing skill and explosive power, Blachowicz is the underdog going into the fight and probably rightly so. How do you bet against the man who many believe defeated the greatest of all time?
The state of the division currently isn’t great. After these two at the top of the division, the winner will likely take on the winner of Thiago Santos vs Glover Teixeira in a soon to be rescheduled fight, while Aleksandar Rakic is also lurking following his dominant win over Anthony ‘Lionheart’ Smith. A new champion could be the injection that the division needs, with no more one-sided fights in the eyes of the casual but it’s also lacking star power.
If Reyes can get another big knockout win like he did against Jared Cannonier and Chris Weidman then he could get the attention of the masses, especially on a card that is likely to house the fight of the year in the main event.
It’s time for someone to step up and take the light heavyweight division by the throat following Jon Jones’ departure. While Jan Blachowicz will hope he can do it, the masses believe it’s time for Dominick Reyes’ destiny to claim the crown as undisputed light heavyweight champion of the world.