UFC Fight Night 129 boasted an intriguing matchup between up-and-coming light heavyweights Jared Cannonier and Dominick Reyes who were both desperate to make their mark and climb into the top 15 rankings with a dominant performance.
Reyes came into this one undefeated on 8-0 and was a strong favourite at $1.40 while Cannonier was paying $2.95 to get the upset win.
Despite being the big underdog, Cannonier (10-3 before this fight) was making some bold predictions beforehand.
“I’m gonna knock this guy out, man,” Cannonier said in a pre-fight interview. “I’m gonna put my hands on him. Usually, I don’t like to say ‘I’m gonna do this or I’m gonna do this,’ but I’m gonna knock him out. Especially if he doesn’t move backwards the way everybody does, they stay away and they don’t want to get hit. But its the fight game, make your peace with the fact that your gonna get hit and when you fight me…you’re gonna get hit hard.”
His opponent, Reyes, knew that if he was able to defeat Cannonier – who ranked 15th when the bout was first announced – he would, most likely, enter the top 15 himself.
“I feel like an impressive performance in this fight will put me in the rankings for sure,” He said. “[Then] being ranked myself, a ranked guy would be the next step. Because Jared was in the rankings when I took this fight. He was number fifteen. So he was supposed to be my first ranked opponent. But they dropped him out [of the rankings]. So either way, I’m just going up from here.”
REYES VS JORDAN POWELL AT LFA 13
— caposa (@Grabaka_Hitman) June 3, 2017
From there, Reyes said that he hopes to wors his way into the division’s top-10 by the end of the year.
“That’s the goal — top-ten before the end of 2018. Finish the year strong.”
Still, Reyes insisted that he wasn’t taking the dangerous Cannonier lightly.
“I gotta take care of Jared first. I’m visualising just a win, man. Hand raised. That’s all I care about, that’s all that really matters. Hand raised, a finish, that’s my goal always, but you never know with the guy you’re fighting, he might be able to take it all. So we’ll see.”
Of Reyes’ eight previous victories, seven of them had come by way of a first round stoppage (5 KO’s, 2 subs) and he kept that up here; Reyes rocked Cannonier with a sharp uppercut and once he sensed that his opponent was wobbly, the Californian was ruthless in his pursuit of the finish.
He caught Cannonier with a flurry of shots and finished him off with another uppercut after two minutes and 55 seconds of action.
There was a hint of an early stoppage but in reality, the ref probably just protected Cannonier from copping unnessecary damage.
When asked how he keeps coming up with such complete performances, Reyes’ said that his formula was a simple one.
“I just train my arse off and I show up here and fight like a warrior,” he said in his post-fight interview.
“We knew the uppercut was going to be there, goign in; he dips his head from time to time and I knew he woud try to close the distance.”
Asked if he had anyone in mind who he’d like to fight next, Reyes gave his answer; fellow 9-0 fighter, Jordan Johnson.
“I’m 9-0, there’s one other guy who is 9-0 and he’s been talking a lot of trash online…Jordan Johnson, come get it.”
It’s clearly too early to talk of top five opponents but if Reyes keeps putting in performances like this, you won’t be able to keep his name out of that conversation for long!