Once UFC 247 came to an end back in February 2020, it was a very common consensus that Dominick Reyes was going to be the UFC light heavyweight champion at some point.
He had just taken the G.O.A.T Jon Jones to the deepest, darkest point of his title reign and the majority of people saw the fight as a Reyes win. Unfortunately for him, the three most important people saw it in Jones’ favour and he suffered the first defeat of his career.
Then Jones vacated the belt and Reyes was installed as one of the contenders and people saw it as a coronation for him, when he fought Jan Blachowicz at UFC 253 in September 2020 on Fight Island.
Instead he succumbed to the legendary Polish power of Blachowicz as he was knocked out in the second round after suffering a broken nose and being knocked senseless.
It was seen as a great moment for the new champ, but for Reyes he was almost seen as a lost hope off the back of two defeats.
Some people said the Jones fight was his absolute peak and it was only downhill from there, while some were more realistic and said he just went into the fight believing his own hype. We’ll never know the truth, but UFC Vegas 25 is an opportunity for him to get back on track.
He’ll take on the highly rated Jiri Prochazka in the main event, knowing that the top of the division is rather slim pickings right now. Blachowicz beat Adesanya who stepped up from middleweight at UFC 259 and is now scheduled to fight Glover Teixeira in September at UFC 266.
After Teixeira, Aleksandar Rakic probably has the best chance at a title shot but a win for Reyes in this fight puts him right in the conversation.
Prochazka is an unorthodox striker who burst onto the scene at UFC 251 with a vicious knockout win over former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir. He is a former RIZIN champion and has vast experience throughout his career with 24 knockout wins from 27 career victories.
Despite his standing in the UFC being new, make no mistake about how big a win this would be for Reyes’ career. It’s hard to argue that it would in fact be his biggest.
Both men will come with strike heavy approaches and we’ve now seen Reyes be chin-checked and fail that test. He needs to come back from the defeat to Blachowicz with a sharper tool set and look to use his good wrestling and kicks too.
A defeat for Reyes would throw him way down the rankings and he would absolutely need to re-build the hype that he generated in the build-up to his title shot. A win however, throws him right back in the mix.
This is do-or-die for ‘The Devastator’ and he knows it. The pressure is high and he says he thrives in it, so now is the time to show it. He has to show the world and prove to himself that he is still a top contender at 205lbs, or face having to rebuild his career just 14 months after hitting the pinnacle.