The fight started out the way Chris Weidman and Dominick Reyes, and most everyone else, figured it would, with Weidman using his wrestling to gain an early advantage. The fight ended the way Reyes and his supporters believed it would, with his hands guiding him to victory.
Weidman, the former UFC middleweight champion from Baldwin making his light heavyweight debut, lost to Reyes by first-round technical knockout at UFC Boston at TD Garden on Friday night.
“All props to Dom Reyes,” Weidman said in the cage after the fight. “Everybody that came here to support me, I apologize I didn’t get the W. It’s the game we play. I’ll be back better.”
Weidman (14-5, 10-5 UFC) decided to move up to light heavyweight after rehabbing through two injuries in the 11 months since he lost to Jacare Souza at UFC 230 at Madison Square Garden. This was the fifth loss in Weidman's last six fights, dating to December 2015 and marked by inactivity because of injury.
“What he said tonight didn’t sound to me like he’s considering retirement. So, it’s a conversation he and I definitely need to have,” UFC president Dana White said in his post-fight news conference. “This was his move up to light heavyweight which obviously didn’t go well for him, so maybe he goes back down to middleweight or he thinks about maybe retiring.”
Against Reyes on Friday night, Weidman, 35, shot in early and was able to get his opponent down 17 seconds into the bout. Reyes got back to his feet rather quickly. Weidman had Reyes in the clinch against the cage for the next minute, with Reyes then getting free.
With both fighters on their feet, Weidman threw a straight right, Reyes (12-0, 6-0) slipped back and countered with a straight left that knocked Weidman to the floor. Reyes pushed Weidman’s legs to the side and connected on four hammer fists before referee Herb Dean stepped in to end the fight for the technical knockout 1:43 into the fight.
“I was out there having fun, feeling loose. He came in and I put him down,” said Reyes, 29. “I’m so honored to fight Chris. He’s a fantastic competitor. I just want to thank him and his family. His loss is my gain and that’s how this business is, but it’s all love, baby."
Reyes, ranked fourth in the division, earned a $50,000 performance of the night bonus. He called out UFC light heavyweight champion Jon Jones after the fight, and his win over a former champion bolsters his resume.
“Early in the fight, I saw the opening there," said Reyes, a former football player at Stony Brook University. "I kind of knew he was gonna lunge in, then I cracked him right in the jaw and then those hammer fists to finish it.”