EXCLUSIVE | After KO of Jared Cannonier, Dominick Reyes is ready for the UFC’s top light heavyweights

Last Saturday night, during the main card of the UFC’s anticipated debut in Santiago, Chile, undefeated light heavyweight contender Dominick Reyes (9-0) authored the biggest win of his career thus far, clobbering the dangerous Jared Cannonier with a rocket-fuelled uppercut in the first round.

Reyes entered the cage in Chile knowing that the uppercut could wind up being a useful weapon. His extensive tape-study of Cannonier revealed this.

“Initially watching film, I knew the uppercut would be there,” Reyes told host Jason Kindschy on the latest episode of BJPENN.COM Radio. “He’s a shorter guy, and the way he comes in with his overhand, I saw the uppercut there. I knew it’d be dangerous because if [my uppercut] doesn’t land, he’s landing. So it was all about timing and really getting his rhythm. And once I got his rhythm and his timing, that’s when I threw it. But yeah it was pretty much another day in the office, man. Showing up, seeing what looks he’s going to give me, and then adjusting based off of that.”

While Reyes’s destruction of Cannonier was undeniably impressive, some members of the MMA community felt the stoppage was a little premature. Cannonier himself seemed to take issue with the result, as he unleashed a bit of verbal venom moments after the fight was stopped. Nevertheless, Reyes feels the stoppage was good.

“[Cannonier] said, ‘Hey man, good job but fuck you,'” Reyes said with a chuckle.

“If I was Jared, I would have been mad initially, too,” he added. “But from my perspective and then from [referee Marc Goddard’s] perspective, he was on skates for a good while there. Every time I connected it put him even further on skates. So if you watch it in slow motion or real time, you’ll see that he’s hurt and he’s not answering back, he’s just taking shot after shot. And then he finally goes out. I thought it was a good stoppage. Me personally, like I said I would have been mad initially, but then watching the fight, I would have been thankful to not get unnecessary punishment, you know, after I’m already knocked out.”

With his destruction of Cannonier in the rear-view mirror, Dominick Reyes is keen to continue his climb up the light heavyweight ladder. His next priority, as he mentioned in a post-fight callout, is Jordan Johnson.

Given that Reyes now holds the number-12 spot in the UFC light heavyweight rankings, his callout of the unranked Johnson might seem like a bit of a head scratcher — his management apparently thought so. To Reyes, however, the fight represents a great chance to show that he’s capable of dealing with top-level wrestlers. After all, the light heavyweight division’s apex predators, Daniel Cormier and Jon Jones, are both tremendous wrestlers. Reyes is also excited about the chance to punish Johnson for his recent trash talk.

“My manager wants me to look forward, you know,” Reyes said of Johnson. “He thinks Jordan is a little bit behind me now. But we’ll see.”

“One, he was talking trash,” Reyes continued, explaining his interest in the matchup. “Two, he is a wrestler, and that’s pretty much all he’s good at. People wanna see me fight a wrestler. So, that would make sense. And yeah, we’re both from California. We both train in California at least. I think [UFC 227 in Los Angeles] would be perfect for that [fight].”

Whether Reyes gets his desired fight with Johnson or another top light heavyweight, he’s expecting nothing but dangerous challenges from hear on out. That’s precisely what Cannonier represented, after all.

“I feel like that was the best Jared Cannonier we had seen in a while, to be honest with you,” Reyes said. “Did you see the shape he was in? He was in ridiculous shape, and honestly I feel I’ll be getting that going forward, you know. The best from guys. And that’s what I hope for. That way I can get the toughest tests and there’s no excuses after the fight.”

What do you think the future holds for Dominick Reyes?

This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 5/24/2018.