Dana White has come under heavy scrutiny for his “show must go on” mentality during the coronavirus pandemic, but not everyone is critical of the UFC president’s philosophy.
Count light heavyweight contender Dominick Reyes among those who praises White’s efforts to do whatever it takes to proceed with UFC 249 on April 18. Reyes, of course, isn’t scheduled to compete on the card, but he nonetheless understands the mentality of a fighter.
“Dana handled this whole thing exactly how you should handle it,” Reyes told UFC.com. “We are the toughest motherf—-ers in the world. Our sport is not like any other sport; you cannot compare it to anything else. Everything we do is different. The only thing we do that other sports do is put in hard work and entertain. We train our whole lives for these fights. For a lot of guys with fights that got postponed, I imagine it being heartbreaking.
“I applaud Dana and I applaud the fighters that are doing what they have to do to provide for their families and loved ones.”
In what already seems like the distant past, Reyes lost a narrow unanimous decision to Jon Jones in a light heavyweight championship clash at UFC 247 on Feb. 8. According to MMADecisions.com, 14 of the 21 media members scoring the bout thought “The Devastator” deserved to emerge victorious. Many other observers saw a similar result, and that only gives Reyes further motivation to push for a rematch.
“I am the people’s champ because everybody believes that I’m the champ. I don’t have gold around my shoulder, I don’t have the actual belt, but I’m the champ,” Reys said. “Everyone saw how I fought Jones and what I did. That’s why any time I post something on social media or someone posts about Jones, the people call out for a rematch and say I’m the champ. Everyone is on board.”
In addition to the ongoing concerns regarding the coronavirus, a couple other things could hinder a potential rematch with Jones. One is Jones’ ongoing personal issues, which now include a recent arrest for aggravated DWI and negligent use of a firearm. The other is the emergence of fellow contender Jan Blachowicz, who scored an emphatic first-round KO of Corey Anderson one week after Reyes’ duel with Jones.
Reyes believes that his fight will linger longer in people’s minds, especially as they go back and watch old bouts during this time of social distancing.
“Jan Blachowicz and Corey Anderson fought and then Blachowicz had all the buzz, but the longer this goes on, the more that people stop talking about him,” Reyes said. “Everybody remembers my fight with Jon. People will watch on UFC Fight Pass and people will get reignited and see how that fight really played out. I think the wait is going to pay off. Our fight was bigger and since nothing is happening right now people won’t be able to forget that.”
It remains unclear when society — and the UFC — will regain some sense of normalcy. When it does, Reyes is confident he can meet with White and work on putting together a championship rematch with Jones.
“There’s nobody else, there’s just Jan and me. He’s won the fights that he’s needed to win, but then he lost that fight to Thiago Santos and won the fights after that. I can’t hate on him for that but it’s obvious that I should be next,” Reyes said. “The biggest reason is that Jones-Reyes 2 is simply the biggest fight Dana White can make. It’s both the money fight and the right fight.
"Once things around the virus improve, I know Dana and I will sit down, and we will get this rematch done.”