Dominick Reyes knows that slow and steady wins the race but it’s getting harder and harder to look at him without seeing a future UFC title contender.
From the day he first stepped foot in the Octagon, the 29-year old California native had a spotlight on him thanks to a series of highlight reel finishes that earned him a contract with the promotion.
Since his debut, Reyes has done everything possible to prove the hype surrounding his arrival was justified as he’s mauled four opponents in a row including three first round finishes and a dominant victory over former title contender Ovince Saint-Preux in his last outing.
While he’s always preached patience when it comes to his desire to one day become UFC champion, Reyes knows that the spotlight is shining down on him right now and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’m the new guy on the block,” Reyes said when speaking to MMAWeekly. “I’m dangerous. I’m dynamic and I move like a smaller guy. It’s intimidating for the guys in my division. I’m really athletic and I do things well and I’m smart when I fight.
“I know the eyes are on me and that’s how I like it. Stars shine. That’s what I’m doing. The more people watching the better.”
This weekend at UFC Fight Night in London, Reyes will take the next step forward in his career when he faces another past title challenger in Volkan Oezdemir.
With an opportunity to take on the No. 6 ranked fighter in the division, Reyes sees his upcoming fight as the perfect chance to prove he’s an elite light heavyweight ready for his own shot at gold sooner rather than later.
“I have a tremendous amount of respect for Volkan and everything he’s done,” Reyes said. “He is the measuring stick to the top five right now. You beat Volkan you’re in the top five looking to get a title shot.
“That’s what I’m planning to do with this fight. Beating Volkan and then maybe another fight and then the title. We’ll see.”
Obviously, Reyes doesn’t want to jump too far ahead, especially with Oezdemir standing in his path this weekend but he’d be remiss if he didn’t start thinking about his long-term goals.
“That would be the ideal situation. If I’m planning out my future, I could see a title shot in 2019, possibly in December,” Reyes said. “Looking at what I’ve got to do, I’ve got to take out Volkan, possibly another guy and then the champ.”
That champ is Jon Jones, the longest reigning light heavyweight champion in UFC history and arguably the greatest fighter to ever compete in mixed martial arts.
If a comparison was to be made, what Jones has accomplished in the UFC is on par with Michael Jordan’s record breaking career in basketball or Tom Brady winning a multitude of championships in the NFL except for one small difference...
Jones has never been defeated (not legitimately anyways).
Because Jones has rarely been pushed in his career much less truly challenged, Reyes looks at that as the ultimate test in his pursuit to become champion.
That is exactly the reason why Reyes will continue to root for the reigning light heavyweight champion to keep winning until they finally have the chance to cross paths.
“I want that to happen. I don’t want anybody to beat Jon Jones,” Reyes explained. “I want to be the guy that dethrones Jon Jones. I’m not calling him out. I’m just saying this is a sport and I think when the time comes, I’ll have the tools necessary.
“No offense to any of the other guys fighting him. Best of luck, obviously, but I want Jones to win.”