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Dominick Reyes Fancied to Hand Chris Weidman Light Heavyweight Debut Loss

BUFFALO, NY - APRIL 08: Chris Weidman is looked at by the doctor during the fight with Gegard Mousasi of the Netherlands in their middleweight bout during the UFC 210 event at KeyBank Center on April 8, 2017 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Former UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman steps up a class to light heavyweight his Friday night but faces a big obstacle on his debut in that division in the unbeaten Dominick Reyes.

Weidman, 35, famously handed Anderson Silva his first UFC loss in 2013 but comes into tackling a new weight category with four defeats in his last five fights.

After dropping the middleweight title to Luke Rockhold at UFC 194, damaging stoppages by Yoel Romero and Gegard Mousasi caused Weidman to slip down the rankings.

Although he got Kelvin Gastelum to tap out in his penultimate bout, Weidman was knocked out by Ronaldo Souza at UFC 230 last November.

He is on the comeback trail, then, and it doesn’t get any easier with a dangerous, up-and-coming opponent.

Reyes is nicknamed ‘The Devastator’ with very good reason. He has won all five of his previous UFC fights and his overall MMA streak is 11-0.

A first-round TKO of Joachim Christensen on UFC debut at a fight night in June 2017 marked Reyes out as a combatant to follow.

Subsequent submission, stoppage and decision victories over Jeremy Kimball, Jared Cannonier, Ovince Saint Preux and Volkan Oezdemir have seen the California native climb up the UFC rankings quickly.
He is now rated the fourth in line for a light heavyweight title shot in the division.

However, take number one contender Daniel Cromier out of the equation, as he intends to have one last fight against the UFC heavyweight champ Stipe Miocic before retiring, and Reyes is effectively third on the list.
That rapid rise is mirrored by Weidman’s decline at middleweight. He is eighth in those rankings now and bookmakers believe he has it all to prove.

Reyes is a hot favourite for their main event bout in Boston’s TD Garden being broadcast live via UFC on ESPN at around 8/13. Weidman, who has the greater cage fighting experience, is about a 7/5 outsider to win the fight.

Despite the serious upward career curve Reyes is enjoying, this encounter represents arguably his toughest task to date. He has fought a couple of former light heavyweight title challengers, but Weidman is the first ex-UFC champion he tussles with.

Youth is on Reyes’ side for the bout and he will surely be targeting a win here over what he sees as a vulnerable Weidman at a career crossroads. There was some controversy surrounding Reyes’ last result with it coming via split decision.

If he is to prove worthy of his ranking, then showing he can mix it with former titleholders only adds to the impression that Reyes is a legitimate contender for gold himself.

Both MMA fighters have a jiu-jitsu background. Weidman was a two-time All-American at college and competed in NCAA amateur wrestling, later winning gold at the 2009 ADCC North American Championships in the submissions class.

Whether that grappling history will help him trade blows with Reyes remains to be seen. An upset win would give Weidman and his career a major shot in the arm, but the odds are against him.

Author: Maurice Gleeson

Irish exile currently residing in Barcelona but stay up to the date with the latest in League of Ireland and the Premier League.