MMAOB staff writer Adam Martin takes a deeper look at the co-main event of UFC 253, a five-round UFC light heavyweight vacant title bout between Dominick Reyes and Jan Blachowicz. The event takes place on Saturday, September 26 at Fight Island on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Dominick Reyes (-275)
Reyes (12-1) is the No. 1 ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. The 30-year-old American made his UFC debut in 2017 and has since racked up a 6-1 record in the Octagon with notable wins over Chris Weidman, Volkan Oezdemir, and Ovince Saint-Preux, and his lone career loss coming against Jon Jones in one of the most controversial decisions of 2020. Reyes is one of the most well-rounded fighters in the division as he mixed in high-level striking and KO power with solid grappling skills. Make no mistake about it, though, his bread-and-butter is his standup as Reyes looks to keep his fights standing and either knock out or outpoint his opponents. He has managed to beat nearly everyone standing in his way up to this point except for Jones, the former long-time 205lbs champ.
Jan Blachowicz (+235)
Blachowicz (26-8) is the No. 3 ranked light heavyweight in the UFC. The 37-year-old Poland native is 9-5 overall in the UFC. He has notable wins over Corey Anderson, Luke Rockhold, Ronaldo Souza, Nikita Krylov, Jared Cannonier, Jimi Manuwa, and Ilir Latifi, with losses to Thiago Santos, Alexander Gustafsson, and Patrick Cummins. Blachowicz made his pro MMA debut back in 2007 and 13 years later he finally gets his first opportunity to fight for a UFC title. Blachowicz has long been known for his trademark “Polish Power” and his technical striking skills, but he is a true mixed martial artist with a fantastic ground game as well. Blachowicz has worked hard in the last few years to become a well-rounded contender and now that his grappling has caught up to his striking, he is one of the best in the world. This is not going to be an easy fight against Reyes and the odds have him as a big underdog heading into the bout, but with the KO power he has, you can’t count him out.
Fight Breakdown: This should be an awesome fight to crown the new UFC light heavyweight champion. Although both guys have underrated grappling skills, I believe the majority of this contest will take place on the feet. That certainly will put both fighters in harm’s way as each man posses legitimate knockout power in all of their limbs. There is certainly a good chance someone gets finished along the way here as 25 minutes is a long time. But I could also see both guys being very technical on the feet and having this fight go the distance. In the end, I favor Reyes’ youth, volume striking, and potential. Blachowicz is a great fighter and while he could pull off the upset, more often than not I think you will see Reyes emerge with his hand raised. Give me Reyes to win a decision.
Prediction: Dominick Reyes wins via decision