Dominick Reyes Felt 'Relief' After Earning First Win in Nearly Five Years

Dominick Reyes was responsible for perhaps the biggest feel-good moment at UFC on ESPN 57.

By knocking out Dustin Jacoby in the first round of their co-main event clash on Saturday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Reyes ended a victory drought that spanned nearly five years.

“It’s a relief, absolutely,” Reyes said at the post-fight press conference. “When he hit me, that was a relief. I was like, ‘I’m still here.’ I had so many questions — just questioning myself. Then I saw my performance. I felt it out there. I was like, ‘I really do love this, and I’m not going anywhere.’”

It was Reyes’ first appearance since November 2022 and his first victory since a first-round KO of Chris Weidman on Oct. 18, 2019. After the Victorille, California, native took Jon Jones to the brink of defeat in their fight at UFC 247, it would have been hard to imagine that Reyes would have endured a slump that lasted this long. As his triumphant moment unfolded, it was clear that there were more than a few people that were rooting for Reyes to succeed.

For Reyes, the victory was about more than simply regaining status in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. It was about proving something to himself and to others.

“It was everything I’ve ever dreamed of since I was a small child wanting to be a professional athlete,” he said. “The walkout, the reception I received from the crowd, the reception I’ve been receiving from the fans has been a dream come true — being respected for what I do and the resilience I have as a man, not just as a fighter.

“I’m getting knocked down, but it doesn’t matter. I’m still fighting. I’m still here. I’m still capable of putting anybody’s lights out. Jacoby’s never been finished in my division, and I finished him tonight. …It’s relief. It’s gratitude. It’s everything. Think about for everybody who’s going through some things and it feels like it’s never going to end. Keep grinding, keep working and it will end. And you’ll be on top again.”

Reyes still likely has some work to do return to true contention at 205 pounds, but he’s in a division where it doesn’t take long to gain notice. The first objective was to get back on a positive track, and he accomplished that goal with his finish of Jacoby.

“With my division, a couple good performances, show the world who you are and do your thing, you’re right back in the conversation,” Reyes said. “So it was never like, ‘Oh I’ll never get back to the title’ because I know who I am, and I know what I’m capable of.

“I was just not even believing in myself, doubting everything I was doing, so how can I win a fight? If I can’t even win a fight, how am I going to go for a title? You’ve got to win, get back to what made you, you. I was never like, ‘I’ll never get back’. I’ve got to focus on now and everything will work itself out.”

For the time being, Reyes doesn’t have any specific opponents in mind. He plans on getting married soon, and that takes first priority. If everything works out, he’d like to fight at The Sphere as part of UFC 306, but nothing is set in stone.

“I’m a fan of the sport as well, and I’m always paying attention … It’s more about the timing vs. the opponent,” he said. “Obviously I want to move up, I’m working toward the title again. I don’t really have anybody in mind, but if people want to call me out, cool. That gives me more options.”

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