The Film Room: Dominick Reyes

By Kevin Wilson Oct 16, 2019
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Rising contender Dominick Reyes steps inside the Octagon this weekend for the biggest fight of his career when he takes on former middleweight champion Chris Weidman in the main event of UFC on ESPN 6. Reyes is just 29 with an undefeated 11-0 record and has all the makings of a future champion. But first, he will have to get by Weidman, who could be in for a career resurgence with a move to 205.

Reyes got a late start in the sport and didn’t join the UFC until 2017 after earning a 6-0 record with five first-round finishes. In just two years with the company, Reyes has racked up five wins with three first-round finishes and has quickly become one of the most exciting young contenders in the division. Early in his career, Reyes would rush forward with wild strikes with little regard for technique or defense. Since joining the UFC, he has become much more patient and tactical but flashes of his old self still present. A southpaw, Reyes’ go-to attack is a left straight down the middle, but he is rather unpredictable and the only technique he routinely relies on are his kicks. I would like to see him use his length better and fight on the outside more, but that will probably come with time.

Reyes is generally patient when working on the outside and turns up the pressure when the opponent is trapped along the cage. He can be reckless and lose dominant position during these exchanges, but generally, he is patiently looking for openings. Wildly swinging for the finish leaves you open for counters and allows the opponent to time punches and circle out. However, Reyes is the perfect mix of aggression and patience. Notice how he fires off a combo and then takes a slight step back to give himself room to continue to cut the opponent off and trap them on the fence.

Standing at 6’4 with a 77-inch reach, Reyes is one of the longest fighters in the division and these kicks are the perfect attack to take advantage of his size. He doesn't seem to favor any specific kick and does a great job at equally attacking the head, body and legs. He will occasionally throw a naked kick, but usually he likes to throw a lead hook or jab from a southpaw stance while taking a step to his right to create a dominate angle. Although these kicks are his best and most-utilized weapon, they also create a major opening for the opponent. Reyes always drops his hands and leaves his torso upright while throwing kicks, which is a big window to get countered.

Despite his reputation as an aggressive fighter, Reyes has become a slick counter striker and is slowly learning how to use his length to help him on the counter. His go-to is the standard southpaw left straight down the middle, but he also likes a rear uppercut on occasion. Notice on some of these counters how he takes a deep step outside of their guard and comes back with an awkward left hand. This may look sloppy, but he landed it clean twice against Ovince St. Preux, including the fight-ending sequence.

Reyes is one of the most interesting contenders in the division, but that doesn't mean he’s perfect. On the offensive side, Reyes doesn't have much to work on but his lack of defense will catch up to him as he fights better competition. His tendency to drop his hands and leave his torso upright while throwing kicks has already gotten him in trouble a few times against Volkan Oezdemir. Oezdemir also showed that he is not great at dealing with pressure, which shows how reliant he is on setting the pace and range of the fight. He has plenty of time to become more adaptable but he better be quick if he wants to make it in the Top 5.

The major intangible in this fight is Weidman’s grappling and nobody knows how Reyes will hold up against an elite wrestler. St. Preux is the best grappler he has faced and although he did well in the exchanges, he was taken down multiple times. Weidman is a far superior grappler and will almost certainly be looking to get this to the ground from the get-go, which also limits Reyes’ striking opportunities. If Reyes kicks like he normally does he will be wide open for takedowns so it will be interesting to see if he changes anything in his striking specifically for Weidman. Advertisement


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