- A light-heavyweight battle between the unbeaten Dominick Reyes and former middleweight champion Chris Weidman headlines UFC on ESPN 6.
- Can Reyes enter the light-heavyweight title picture?
- Will the move to 205 pounds be the cure for Weidman?
The UFC heads to TD Garden in Boston for UFC on ESPN 6 on Friday (Oct. 18). In the main event, Dominick Reyes, who is the No. 4-ranked fighter in the official UFC light-heavyweight rankings, puts his perfect 11-0 record on the line against ex-UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman.
Reyes has enjoyed a fast rise to the top of the 205-pound division. He debuted with the UFC in 2017.
Weidman is on a 1-4 slide since late 2015. UFC on ESPN 6 marks his first fight in the light-heavyweight division. Weidman has not fought for close to a year.
REYES VS WEIDMAN ODDS
|Fighter||Odds (as of Oct. 15)|
ESPN2 broadcasts the entire event. The main card begins at 9 PM ET following prelims at 6 PM ET.
RISE AND FALL
Reyes joined the UFC on the strength of a massive head kick knockout on the LFA 13 card. That stoppage left his opponent, Jordan Powell, face down on the mat for a scary amount of time. Three weeks later, Reyes was inside the octagon, where he faced Joachim Christensen. Reyes ended that fight in 29 seconds via punches. UFC commentator Jon Anik said after the stoppage, “There’s a new force to be reckoned with and his name is Dominick Reyes.” At the time, Anik couldn’t have know how prophetic that call was.
The UFC must have seen potential in Reyes because they have moved him through the division in a hurry. His past two wins, both decision victories, have come against former UFC light heavyweight title challengers, Ovince Saint Preux and Volkan Oezdemir. Today, the 29-year-old seems poised to be a future title challenger.
Weidman’s path was similar to that of Reyes. He debuted with the UFC in 2011 with a 5-0 record. The New Yorker won his first bout with the promotion by decision and then charged up the rankings. In July 2013, with a record of 9-0, he stunned the MMA world when he knocked out Anderson Silva in the second round of UFC 162. The knockout loss ended Silva’s reign as middleweight champion.
Weidman defended the title three times before Luke Rockhold knocked him out in December 2015. Injuries and losses followed. Weidman’s record is now 14-4. He is coming off November 2018 knockout loss to Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza. The 35-year-old is looking to kickstart his career as a light heavyweight.
Reyes is a striker with a lot of power in both his hands and his legs. He also targets the entire body of his opponent. In his win over Oezdemir, Reyes landed 16 head strikes, 16 body blows and 12 leg kicks. Reyes prefers to use his height and reach and work from distance. He will have a two-inch height advantage over Weidman, but his reach is one-inch less than that of the ex-champion.
One important aspect of Reyes game could come into play in this fight and that is his motion. He is active on his feet. He’ll need to keep moving to steer clear of Weidman’s takedowns.
“There’s a new force to be reckoned with and his name is Dominick Reyes.”
Weidman is a very well-rounded fighter. He works from a wrestling base. He uses the skills that earned him All-American status at Hofstra to his advantage, employing a very heavy top game once he gets the fight to the mat. Weidman is tied for first all-time in the UFC middleweight division in takedowns landed with 37, expect him to do his best to get the fight to the ground.
If the ex-champ fails on his takedowns, it won’t cause him to panic. He might not be as good on his feet as he is on the mat, but Weidman can hold his own as a kickboxer and he does have knockout power.
TALE OF THE TAPE
|Dominick Reyes||Category||Chris Weidman|
|5.05||Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute||3.15|
|2.27||Significant Strikes Absorbed Per Minute||3.23|
|0.40||Takedown Average Per 15 Minutes||3.76|
|0.40||Submission Average Per 15 Minutes||1.02|
WHAT’S AT STAKE
This is a simple question to answer when it comes to Reyes: a potential title fight is at stake. Current light-heavyweight champ Jon Jones does not have an opponent for his next title defense. If Reyes can run over Weidman, he could be considered as Jones’ next opponent.
The last former middleweight champion to move up to light heavyweight was Luke Rockhold. Heading into his fight with Jan Błachowicz, Rockhold seemed to be looking past his opponent and thinking about a fight with Jones. Rockhold got knocked out in the second round of that fight.
Weidman seems to be taking the same approach. “If it’s up to me, I dominate Dominick Reyes and I go against Jon Jones. That’s the goal. I want to beat the best,” Weidman told UFC Unfiltered. With a 1-4 record in his past five fights, Weidman needs to be totally fixated on Reyes.
Weidman should be commended for taking his first light-heavyweight fight against someone like Reyes. It shows that he’s serious about contending at light heavyweight.
The downside is that Weidman hasn’t fought in nearly a year and facing a top-ranked 205-pounder who is at the peak of his confidence could be a problem. I do believe that Weidman is the better fighter, overall, but I don’t think he’ll be up for the challenge Reyes brings after his long layoff.
Pick: Reyes (-170)