If Dominic Reyes did not know about the concept of Murphy’s Law until his last fight with Jan Blachovich, then he later became an expert.
Touted as a favorite to become the new UFC light heavyweight champion after John Jones gave up the belt, Reyes was confident he would finally become the king of the division, leaving only one hurdle to overcome.
After pushing Jones to the brink, when many believed he deserved to win that night, Reyes was absolutely convinced that it was only a matter of time before becoming a champion. And then the world around him collapsed.
“Everything that could go wrong went wrong,” Reyes said of his fight against Blahovich in a conversation with MMA Fighting. “It’s a good learning experience. After all, this is a great learning experience. I am still young in my career. I am just beginning my heyday as a man. I have a lot of fun times ahead.
“A lot of people have been counting me off lately as if I died or something like that. No, I was just knocked down. It is what it is.”
Prior to the fight, Reyes was already grappling with personal issues after both of his parents contracted COVID-19, which meant he couldn’t be around them during training camp. For a man who is incredibly close to his family, not being able to spend time with his parents was bad enough, but then Reyes’ father did deal with the devastating effects of a deadly disease that claimed more than 574,000 lives in the United States alone. …
At the same time that this was happening, Reyes also tried to make some adjustments to his training to prepare for Blachovich, which he found was ultimately counterproductive to his evolution as a fighter.
“I tried to change my style and it wasn’t the best idea,” Reyes explained. “The coach was changed, and it was not a good idea. It was just a lot. My mom and dad had COVID, at that time I could not see them for three months before that fight.
“They are huge, they make up a huge part of my life and who I am, and where I get my strength and confidence. I didn’t show up. Obviously it’s on me. I paid the price. I derive most of my strength from my family and due to the fact that they were not in the three months before the fight, I could not see them or hug them. I could see them in Facetime and the like, but I couldn’t sit and talk to them or anything like that. My father was very sick and it put pressure on me. “
Fortunately, Reyes’ parents recovered from COVID-19, which was far more important to him than any UFC title he could have won in battle.
However, Reyes was simply in the wrong place psychologically to deal with these stresses and then traveled halfway across the world to Abu Dhabi to take on Blakhovich for the title at stake.
Not daring to reveal information, Reyes also revealed that he actually had a broken nose before the title fight, which also caused him to change his strategy after Blakhovich stabbed him early in the fight.
“Not many people know about this, but I broke my nose before the fight. I hate to say this because it sounds like an excuse and I hate excuses as hell, ”Reyes said. “But when he barely hit me in the nose and it crumbled, I’m like shit, that’s bad. It used to be bad.
“I thought I should do something, otherwise they will stop the fight. I hit the wall with the ball and didn’t win this exchange. “
Even though Reyes was disappointed in himself that night, he also paid tribute to Blachovich for a job well done after he ended the fight with a TKO in the second round.
Reyes definitely looked inside to find answers to questions he personally faced in battle, but there was also a punishing light heavyweight from Poland swinging hammers over his head. Overall, Reyes thinks Blakhovich absolutely deserves credit for a job well done.
“Jan, he put on a great show that night. He deserves this belt, ”Reyes said. “He went to protect him from [Israel Adesanya]who tried to climb, which is great for the division. Get us some respect. He is a great champion right now. I have a hell of a lot of respect for him. I learned some good lessons that evening on how to have fun again, not get too hung up on the outcome, and focus on the journey rather than the outcome.
“The whole process of becoming great. It doesn’t happen overnight. These are years and years of work, dedication, focus and self-improvement. I lost a bit of myself in that battle. I think in my speech it was pretty clear how I was moving and what I was doing. “
Reyes blames himself for his shortcomings, but defeat also encouraged him as he returned to training to prepare for the upcoming fight against Jiri Prochazka at UFC Vegas 25.
After failing a couple of title fights in 2020, Reyes was ready to start having fun again and remember what made him love mixed martial arts in the first place.
“I’m not angry about what happened,” Reyes said of his latest loss. “What should have happened has happened. Everything happens for a reason. This gave me the opportunity to grow. Now I am preparing to release a brand new House.
“I feel fucking fantastic. I feel fantastic. I’m so ready. I’m fucking ready. I feel again like I was preparing for [Chris] Weidman. I want your best version. Let’s go see what you have. I cannot explain it. I feel fresh. I fell in love with sports again. In the last fight, I didn’t like what I was doing. It felt like work. It was not a move. “
With this fight, Reyes attracts a highly publicized player in Prohazka, who made a big impact on his debut in the Octagon when, after several insane leg swaps, he defeated former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir.
Considering Prochazka’s go-big or go-home style, Reyes is slobbering over to face him Saturday night as he sets to resume his journey to the top of the light heavyweight division.
“This is an amazing match,” Reyes said. “He’s really exciting or crazy, in his case they are both interchangeable. He likes what he does. It will be great. He loves to fight and is a really tough guy. I think my experience will show in this fight. It will be like the UFC, not RIZIN. No offense to the guys from RIZIN, but they are not on our level. They are not.
“You will see some wonderful works from me. Jiri is going to have a great fight, but it won’t be enough. I’m going to come out with my hand up to the top of the world, ready to take the next step, whatever it may be. “
As for the title, Reyes is fully committed to fighting for the belt again, but he knows that won’t happen after a single win over Prochazka this weekend.
After Jones left, the light heavyweight division continued to thrive, with some veterans and a few newcomers changing the status quo.
Reyes considers Blakhovich a phenomenal champion and hopes that one day in the future he will look at him through the octagon again.
“I mean John [Jones] this is a joke. This is a constant joke from the entire MMA community. A real clown, he always thinks of himself, ”Reyes said of his former opponent. “The division is amazing. We have a lot of newbies and applicants. The light heavyweight division was exciting. Jan is a great champion, a great man, and I have nothing but respect for this guy. I think 99 percent of the MMA world feels the same way.
“He is the only man who ever surpassed me. I respect him. It’s not time to fight him yet. I have to earn this right. But I want it back. He and Mr. moneybags over there. I’m so glad to be there again. It will be so much fun. This guy fits my style perfectly. I am clean, I am sharp, I am tight. He’s a wild child. Will be good. It will be really good. “