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UFC on ESPN: Reyes vs. Weidman - Predictions and Picks

Scott Newman
SENIOR ANALYST
Preview
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 00:45 IST

The UFC presents a rare Friday show this week as Chris Weidman takes on Dominick Reyes
The UFC presents a rare Friday show this week as Chris Weidman takes on Dominick Reyes

The UFC returns to ESPN this week for a rare Friday night show taking place in Boston, Massachusetts. It’s a pretty solid card too, with a potential Light-Heavyweight title eliminator in the main event and a rematch of UFC Fight Night 159’s Yair Rodriguez vs. Jeremy Stephens main event right underneath.

Thus far we’ve seen the UFC’s efforts on the ‘big’ ESPN channel provide plenty of excitement – so hopefully, this, the sixth show on the network, will also deliver.

Here are the predicted outcomes for UFC on ESPN: Reyes vs Weidman.

#1 Dominick Reyes vs. Chris Weidman

Will Chris Weidman
Will Chris Weidman's move to 205lbs pay off?

Some fans might scoff at this idea given Weidman hasn’t won a fight since July 2017, but there’s a hell of a lot at stake here in the 205lbs division as it’s totally conceivable that the winner could next face Jon Jones for the UFC Light Heavyweight title.

This is a bit of a tangent but I feel like it says a lot about Jones – in a positive way for once! – and how he’s willing to take on all comers at any time, meaning there’s rarely a bottle-neck of contenders at 205lbs as there tends to be in divisions where the UFC champion is more picky about who they face.

At any rate, this is interesting matchmaking because while Reyes is very established at 205lbs, with wins over the likes of Volkan Oezdemir and Ovince St. Preux, it’s Weidman’s first fight at the weight in his UFC career and yet he still represents the biggest name ‘The Devastator’ has faced yet. Should that matter? In all honesty, perhaps not.

When he debuted in the UFC back in June 2017 with a squash win over Joachim Christensen, I always did say that Reyes had the tools to make it to the top of the division. At 6’4” he’s one of the bigger men in the division, and his 77” reach makes him one of the longer, too.

Thus far in his UFC career, we’ve basically seen a full arsenal from him. He’s shown excellent striking from a technical standpoint, using his reach to full advantage, he’s a high-level athlete and while we haven’t seen too much of his grappling, he was able to fend off the wrestling of St. Preux largely by simply keeping on the move.

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On paper considering the skillsets of both men, I’d actually class this as a pretty horrible style match for Reyes; Weidman actually has a longer reach at 78”, he’s equally adept at throwing out long strikes although defensively, he’s never been great, and in terms of grappling he’s a tremendous wrestler and absolutely scary grappler on the ground.

Essentially, Weidman’s actually got a lot of tools that would make you suspect he could give Jon Jones a tricky fight – but of course, there’s a major caveat. Realistically, he’s taken an insane amount of damage over the past few years, starting from the beating he took at the hands of Luke Rockhold when he lost the UFC Middleweight title to him back in December 2015.

Since then Weidman’s been stopped violently by Yoel Romero and Ronaldo Souza, and he also took a large amount of damage from Gegard Mousasi and Kelvin Gastelum although neither man outright knocked him out. At 35 years old having taken so much damage and suffered so many injuries, you’ve got to question exactly how much ‘The All-American’ has left.

I’ve said this before but I actually think Weidman might be the biggest USADA victim on the UFC roster – but not because he was ever on PEDs, but more because he was a big weight cutter at 185lbs who likely used an IV to rehydrate himself. Once the IV became a no-go, Chris Weidman was forced to lose a lot of size in order to make the Middleweight limit, which in turn lost him the strength advantage he once had over many opponents.

In reality, he perhaps should’ve moved to 205lbs after the Rockhold loss; his lack of explosive speed wouldn’t have been so much of an issue against bigger fighters and he could easily have packed a little more muscle onto his frame and been a very imposing 205lber. He still might pull that off, but I’m always wary of picking a fighter who’s become so much easier to knock out.

For me, prime Weidman probably would’ve taken this fight due to his long reach, wrestling and powerful grappling, but I just don’t trust that even if he takes a couple of rounds with that grappling, unless he can outright tap Reyes out, that he won’t be badly hurt and finished at some point. Therefore, I’m taking Dominick Reyes to become the latest man to finish Weidman – earning a shot at Jon Jones in the process.

The Pick: Reyes via third-round TKO

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Published 14 Oct 2019, 17:44 IST
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