Who will reign over the 205 Division after UFC 253?
With one of the GOATS of the UFC vacating the light heavyweight title, two men are set to battle for it. Jan Blachowicz (26-8-0) is coming off of a big knockout in round 1 over former UFC contender Corey Anderson. Blachowicz is on a 3 fight winning streak and he’s looking to shock the world at UFC 253 against Dominick Reyes (12-1-0). The man on the other side of the cage, who many say, should already be the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion.
Born in Hesperia, California, Dominick Reyes is a former college football player turned cage fighter. Reyes was a D-1 starting safety for 4 years at Stony Brook University. Something he credits a lot for his success in the UFC.
“Mental toughness, film study, attention to detail, accountability – those are all things that transitioned.” Reyes believes. “And then with strength and conditioning, a lot of fighters don’t even understand strength and conditioning really, but I was able to learn it over at Stony Brook; real in-depth.”
While any dreams of playing in the NFL never came to fruition, Reyes has risen to the top of another sport. At UFC 247, Dominick Reyes battled it out against the then Light Heavyweight Champ, Jon Jones. While Reyes came out strong in the first 3 rounds, he definitely faded as the fight grew long. Jon Jones was able to pull off the decision, something that left many UFC fans in an uproar.
Dominick Reyes’ road to the title shot at UFC 253
Beginning his UFC career in a TKO win against Joachim Christensen at UFC Fight Night 112, on the 25th of June, 2017. It quickly became apparent that Dominick Reyes was a special athlete in the Light Heavyweight Division. Reyes would go on to win his next 5 fights in the UFC. Going on a run all the way up the ladder, winning over names such as: Jared Cannonier, Ovince St. Preux, Volkan Oezdemir, and Chris Weidman. Not only did Dominick TKO Jared Cannonier, but he added a highlight reel knockout to his collection against the legend killer: Chris Weidman.
They call him; “The Prince of Cieszyn”. This Polish powerhouse is from (you guessed it) Cieszyn, Poland, and he is 37 years old. This unassuming man is the owner of 16 finishes on his pro MMA record (7 KO’s, 9 sub’s). Which just goes to show, even the nicest looking people can be complete savages in the octagon. At UFC 253, he’s hoping to win his first ever UFC title and become Poland’s first male UFC Champion!
Jan Blachowicz’s road to the title shot at UFC 253
Blachowicz debuted in the UFC on October 4th, 2014 at UFC Fight Night 53. In his debut, he would fight Ilir Latifi and win by TKO in round one. Blachowicz would go on to lose his next two fights. The first against Jimi Manuwa at UFC Fight Night 64, and the next against Corey Anderson at UFC 191. Jan would bounce back, only to go on an even bigger losing streak.
In fact, it wasn’t until October 21st, of 2017 that Jan Blachowicz would start to find his rhythm inside the UFC. Jan would end his losing streak with a win over Devin Clark via rear-naked choke submission. This victory would earn him the Performance of the Night Bonus. Next, Blachowicz would face Jared Cannonier and win via Unanimous Decision.
The rematch with Jimi Manuwa came next, and this time Jan wasn’t losing. In a victory that earned the men the Fight of the Night bonus, Jan would leave the score 1-1. Nikita Krylov would be finished by Jan in his next fight, with Blachowicz finishing the fight via arm-triangle in the second round to earn yet another Performance of the Night bonus. Here enters: Thiago Santos.
In the third round of his highly anticipated matchup against Thiago Santos, Jan would get caught with a counter and lose by TKO. Marking the first time in his MMA career that he has been stopped due to strikes. Luckily, Jan Blachowicz would next be matched up against former champion, Luke Rockhold. Winning that fight by Knockout in round two and once again earning a Performance of the Night bonus. To follow, he would take Ronaldo Souza into deep waters and win via split decision. Which brings us back to the rematch with Corey Anderson, where Jan would shock the world with a devastating KO. He looks to do the same, at UFC 253 against Dominick Reyes!
Keys to victory, and prediction!
First off, we’ll start with Jan Blachowicz. I believe his biggest key to victory is to make this matchup an MMA fight. In lamen’s terms, he really needs to utilize his grappling. It’s unknown who will win the stand up exchanges, but on paper Dominick looks like the more dynamic fighter on the feet. If Jan can land a few takedowns, and possibly some good ground and pound, he will be way better off on the scorecards for it and maybe he could even find a submission against Dominick in the later rounds. Another key to victory would be defending the kicks. Jan is someone who’s a tad susceptible to leg kicks, which is a primary weapon of choice for Reyes. If Reyes can compromise Jan’s mobility, Jan could turn into a sitting duck compared to the speedy athlete who is Dominick Reyes.
For Dominick Reyes, I believe his biggest key to victory is defending the takedown, and staying out of the clinch. The reason being, Dominick Reyes’ best chance at beating Jan is on the feet. Dominick Reyes is a versatile striker who throws lots of kicks, and has KO power moving forward or backwards. He wants to stay out of the clinch with Jan, because like former double champ DC, Jan is great at getting the KO when he’s disengaging from a clinch. Another key to victory, could be coming off fast in round one. Something that Reyes has developed a reputation for, with his illustrious resume of a ton of first round finishes.
Prediction for UFC 253: Reyes vs. Blachowicz
For my personal prediction, I’ve gotta lean with Dominick Reyes. Reyes has an 82% takedown defense in the UFC, and we’ve never seen him be held down for long periods of time. I don’t think Jan will be able to take Dominick down early, and if he does I see Dominick popping back up quickly.
It will be interesting to see whether Jan can have grappling success in the later rounds, when and if, Reyes starts to get fatigued like his last fight. It will be in the later rounds, where Jan has his best chance at finishing the fight on the ground. Which leads me to say, I do think Dominick will get the better of Jan on the feet. Dom is more explosive, and more dynamic. I just don’t see Jan Blachowicz being able to keep up with his speed very well. I’ve got Reyes winning by a hard fought Decision! As always, thank you for reading! And, enjoy the fights!
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!