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Dominick Reyes entered UFC 253 with the mindset of a champion defending his belt. He left the Octagon humbled by Polish power.
Coming off a narrow loss to Jon Jones that many observers thought he won, Reyes was a prohibitive favorite to claim the vacant light heavyweight crown against Jan Blachowicz, but it was the Polish veteran who ultimately emerged with a second-round technical knockout triumph at the Flash forum in Abu Dhabi on Saturday night.
Blachowicz adopted a measured approach from the outset, battering Reyes with powerful kicks to the body that left a gnarly bruise on the Californian’s side. In Round 2, Blachowicz appeared to break Reyes’ nose and then later dropped him with a left hand behind the ear. Follow-up punches sealed the deal at the 4:36 mark of the period, making Blachowicz the UFC’s 13th light heavyweight champion.
Throughout the contest, Reyes appeared hesitant to attack with the trademark athleticism he used to give Jones trouble in their UFC 247 encounter. “The Devastator” acknowledged that he could have been more aggressive in a post on his Twitter account shortly after the defeat.
“Well f—k! Gotta pull the trigger!!! Nothing left to do but get back up,” he wrote. “Congrats to Jan hell of a performance.”
After beginning his professional career with 12 consecutive triumphs, the 30-year-old Reyes has dropped back-to-back fights in the Las Vegas-based promotion.