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Power still plays in MMA. Hence the rise of one Dominick Reyes.
The undefeated Ultimate Fighting Championship light heavyweight contender on Friday dismissed Chris Weidman with punches in the first round of their UFC on ESPN 6 main event at TD Garden in Boston, inching ever closer to a shot at the 205-pound throne. Reyes drew the curtain 1:43 into Round 1, as he improved to 12-0 overall and 6-0 in the UFC.
Once it was clear that Weidman’s attempts to pursue takedowns were futile, the outcome became all but a formality. There was simply too much tread on his tires. Reyes remained calculated and composed, sent a nasty counter left hand plunging into the former middleweight champion’s face and set the forces in motion for another first-round finish. Weidman collapsed to the canvas, struggled to regain his wits and was met with two standing-to-ground hammerfists from the aptly named “Devastator.”
In the aftermath of UFC on ESPN 6, here are four matches that ought to be made:
Dominick Reyes vs. Anthony Smith: Reyes can no longer be overlooked in the light heavyweight pecking order. The 29-year-old Californian has secured nine of his 12 career wins inside one round and has managed to rise to the occasion against increasingly stout opposition since joining the UFC a little more than two years ago. Reyes’ last four victories have come against Weidman, Volkan Oezdemir, Ovince St. Preux and Jared Cannonier, leaving him perhaps a step or two away from challenging Jon Jones for the light heavyweight crown. Smith last appeared at UFC Fight Night 153, where he retired Alexander Gustafsson with a fourth-round rear-naked choke on June 1.
Yair Rodriguez vs. Zabit Magomedsharipov-Calvin Kattar winner: Still just 27 years of age, Rodriguez was his usual electrifying self in posting a unanimous decision over Jeremy Stephens in the three-round featherweight co-main event. “The Ultimate Fighter Latin America” winner now owns an 8-1 record in the UFC, a May 2017 technical knockout loss to Frankie Edgar his only misstep. While he remains a little too reckless for his own good and often risks bleeding his gas tank dry with low-percentage offensive maneuvers, Reyes has established himself as one of the most dynamic talents on the UFC roster at any weight. Magomedsharipov has been booked opposite Kattar at UFC Fight Night 163 on Nov. 9.
Maycee Barber vs. Viviane Araujo-Jessica Eye winner: Many see Barber as a future champion, and she has done nothing to temper those expectations through eight professional appearances. The 21-year-old Roufusport prospect remained undefeated, as she buried Gillian Robertson with an avalanche of elbows and punches in the first round of their women’s flyweight showcase. Barber closed the deal 3:04 into Round 1, extending her run of consecutive finishes to six. Though she called for a match with Paige VanZant, she should probably set her sights a little higher at this stage of her development. Araujo will confront Eye at UFC 245 on Dec. 14.
Darren Stewart vs. Omari Akhmedov: Stewart has carved out a niche for himself at 185 pounds, winning four of his last five fights while continuing to fly under the radar. His latest conquest came at the expense of previously unbeaten Deron Winn, as he eked out a split decision over the American Kickboxing Academy representative in a three-round middleweight feature. Stewart, who turns 29 in December, does not figure to rise much above the division’s middle tier, but dependable action fighters will always have a place in the UFC. Akhmedov last fought at UFC 242 in September, when he took a unanimous decision from Zak Cummings in the United Arab Emirates.