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Reyes preparing for the next level ahead of UFC 218

<a href='../fighter/Dominick-Reyes'>Dominick Reyes</a> celebrates his knockout victory over <a href='../fighter/joachim-christensen'>Joachim Christensen</a> at Fight Night Oklahoma City
Dominick Reyes had a couple good weeks between his UFC debut win over Joachim Christensen and his UFC 218 bout with Jeremy Kimball tomorrow in Detroit. He might have even had several, but two in particular stood out when he got to give his two weeks’ notice at his IT job and become a full-time fighter.

Best weeks ever?

“I don’t know about the best two weeks of my life, but it was pretty cool,” laughs the light heavyweight prospect, who always felt that the cubicle life just wasn’t his final destination.

“It’s not for me,” he said. “I have too much fire burning inside me to be sitting on a computer all day.”

After racing out to a 6-0 pro MMA record following a successful college football career at Stony Brook University, the Californian made it 7-0 with a blistering 29-second knockout of Christensen in June. Soon after, he made the call to go all-in on his fight career. He admits it was a bit scary to make that decision, but while IT will always be there, a fighting career has a small window of opportunity attached to it.

“IT is a good job, so I was like, I don’t know,” Reyes said. “But I’ve already proved that I belonged here, so I might as well go all-in. Worst case scenario, I’ve got my degree and I can come back.”

And while Reyes has proven to be an unrepentant knockout artist on fight night, outside of the Octagon, he’s a 27-year-old with a good head on his shoulders who is already making his plans for life in fighting and after it.

“I’m pretty much taking all the right steps,” he said. “I’m trying to take it slow, I’m not trying to rush to the head of the line. I’m earning my way to the top.”
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You wouldn’t think he was the patient sort if you’ve seen him fight, with the Christensen win being the latest example. But the way he sees it, the faster he ends his fights, the better.

“I don’t get paid per punch that I take,” he said. “There were a couple fights that I did have where I wanted to get into a war and I wanted to be hit and all that, but that was early on in my career. I realized that I want to do this for a long time, so the quicker I can get out of each fight is better for me.”

It’s better for the fans as well, because everyone loves finishers, making Saturday’s clash between Reyes and Kimball, who ended his most recent UFC win in 81 seconds, a must see. Add in the fact that they’re both rising stars in a division that needs all the young guns it can get, and the winner might get a more accelerated route to the top than similar fighters in other divisions, a fact not lost on “The Devastator.”

“I’ve realized that there’s not many light heavyweights,” he said. “And I’ve only been fighting MMA for three years, so it’s accelerated in that aspect itself. So whatever God has in store and whatever happens, I’ll be ready for it.”

That’s the job of a defensive back, IT specialist or prizefighter. Be prepared for anything that comes up, because nothing is predictable. So Reyes has plenty of experience there, and he never gets too high or too low because the next moment is always around the corner. And though there will probably be a lot more clips for his personal highlight reel, his UFC debut will always hold a special spot there.

“I don’t think there’s anything that’s ever topped the Christensen win,” he said. “My first time on the huge pro stage, where I wanted to be my whole life, and going above and beyond what I ever thought I would do there, that was the top moment in my athletic career. But I respect all the moments that I had – the interception to beat Albany, the first playoff win in Stony Brook history, that was its own moment in itself. And all these moments are accumulating to get me ready for the next moment.”

He’s hoping those moments add up to a world championship some day, and he believes being a full-time fighter will help get him there.

“I’m just getting ready for that next level,” he said. “It’s more preparation for hopeful future title fights and things like that, to become champ and stay champ.”

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