Dominick Reyes has some advice for people who haven’t seen him fight.
“If you blink, you might miss a knockout,” he said. “Don’t go pee, don’t go make yourself a drink. Show up, sit down, and watch the fight. It’s going to be fun.”
He isn’t exaggerating, either. Of his nine fights, just one made it past the first round. Every other one of his fights ended in the first frame, and six have come by way of a knockout or TKO. It’s no wonder he’s favored in his upcoming fight against Ovince Saint Preux, but his three UFC opponents have only fought a combined 16 times in the promotion, a number Saint Preux beats by himself.
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repost @numbersmma Numbers don't lie! When that cage door closes, He's comin! #devastator #is #coming #ufc229 #heretowork #finisher
A post shared by Dominick Reyes (@domreyes24) on Sep 25, 2018 at 5:28pm PDT
It’s this lack of experience that has Saint Preux feeling a little underrated coming into UFC 229.
“It baffled me,” he said. “I'm going on my 18th fight in the UFC, and I've fought the who's who, and I think he only has three fights in the UFC. I'm not trying to downplay him or nothing, but I don't know.”
Saint Preux looks back on his most recent fight, a first-round submission victory over Tyson Pedro at Fight Night Singapore, as an example where experience came into play. The 35-year-old was rocked early but rallied to secure his fourth win in his last five fights.
“When you break into the top 15, it's cool,” Saint Preux said. “You get excited. Then the top 10 comes around, and the same thing you were doing against guys who weren't in the top 15, that you were doing to guys who were in the top 15, you can't do it in the top 10 and top 5. That becomes really different.”
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Reyes didn’t take Saint Preux’s doubts about his wins as a sign of disrespect, though.
“His experience has led him to understand that when things don’t go your way, you’ve got to keep going, figure things out,” Reyes said. “That’s life as an athlete. Things don’t always go your way, but you got to figure it out.”
When the two step into the cage on October 6, Reyes will have plenty to figure out in Saint Preux, who has finished fights through a combination of diverse striking and unorthodox submissions. Saint Preux’s style is one he doesn’t think people can “adapt to right away,” but Reyes isn’t worried.
“You just make yourself a complete martial artist,” Reyes said. “I work on all aspects of jiu jitsu. Every submission, I’ve seen. I know how to defend submissions. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t know how to grapple and understanding jiu jitsu and wrestling. That’s where I sit with that stuff.”
The up-and-comer facing an experienced opponent is a narrative as old as any, but that won’t take away from the excitement when the two square off. Both fighters expressed their desire to end things in the first round, and it’s hard to expect this fight to go past the first five minutes.
Zac Pacleb is a writer and producer for UFC.com. You can follow him on Twitter @ZacPacleb.