UFC Boston: Reyes Looks to Make Statement Against Weidman

27 UFC Boston Dominick Reyes UFC 253
Credit: Joe McDonagh/Cageside Press

Dominick Reyes will look to set the bar high for the other light-heavyweight contenders when he takes on Chris Weidman at UFC Boston.

There are three key 205lb bouts that will be taking place before December, after which many feel there will be a clear next contender to take on light-heavyweight kingpin Jon Jones.  At UFC Boston, Dominick Reyes will be looking to make a case that fans and pundits need look no further than himself.  “The Devastator” has been perfect inside the Octagon, putting together five victories that include facing former title challengers and top contenders such as Ovince Saint Preux, Volkan Oezdemir, and Jared Cannonier.

Overall, Reyes is a perfect 11-0 in his career.  By comparison, he has more experience and been more consistent than the other names in consideration such as Jan Blachowicz and Johnny Walker.  That said, many feel that Reyes needs an electric performance against Weidman to sway the UFC to book the fight considering the immense attention and fan support on Walker should the Brazilian also notch a victory in two weeks’ time.  For his part, Reyes has balked at the idea of the others jumping the line ahead of him.  However, he also has the unenviable task of being the first to set the bar at UFC Boston with Walker and Blachowicz scheduled to fight after him.

Former middleweight champion Chris Weidman enters the light-heavyweight division with the hopes of reinvigorating a career in desperate need of momentum.  Once the top dog at 185 pounds who defended the title three times, Weidman is currently on a 1-3 skid with several layoffs that have kept him out roughly a year each time.  To his credit, he has faced only top flight competition in that stretch in Gegard Mousasi, Luke Rockhold, and Yoel Romero.  The lone victory is notably over top ranked Kelvin Gastelum back in 2017.

The hope is that a move up in weight will allow Weidman to be a faster fighter after often powering through the competition at 185.  He has not been given an easy out in the top-ranked Reyes whom many feel has been set up to have a showcase with this fight.  At a time when Jon Jones appears untouchable,  Weidman provides an interesting storyline for a potential match-up.  A Long Island native, Weidman was one of the fighters crucial in the campaign toward legalizing MMA in the state of New York.  Jones, born in Rochester, has long said he wished to return home to compete and a bout with Weidman would be considered a battle for Big Apple supremacy.

Reyes is the taller athlete but the two have the same reach.  The strategy for “The Devastator” should be to keep the fight in the center of the Octagon where his more fluid striking grants him his biggest advantage against Weidman.  That said, he should look to keep the fight at mid-range rather than get into the pocket as it allows the former champion to get in close to initiate the clinch.

The strategy for Weidman should be to use his striking to hide his takedowns.  Weidman should look to use heavy kicks and get in-and-out.  He is moving up a weight class and figures to be the much faster athlete at 205 pounds.  By getting in-and-out with short combinations, he forces Reyes to take more risks to close the distance.  At the same time, head movement becomes more important for Weidman as avoiding the advances of Reyes  will be key to successfully executing this game plan.

The winner of this fight is in an excellent position in the light-heavyweight division.  Jon Jones is currently unbooked going into 2020 and both Reyes and Weidman have credentials for a possible title shot.  That said, there will be pressure to put on an exciting performance because of the upcoming fight between Corey Anderson and Johnny Walker whom both carry intrigue for a title fight themselves.  Top ranked Jan Blachowicz also competes in roughly a month and a victory would set him up as a possible option as well.