Wilson Reis and Jeremy Stephens, both fighting out of Chula Vista’s Alliance Gym, will be featured at UFC on FOX 24 in Kansas City on April 15.
Reis (25-2-1) will face champion Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson (22-6) for the UFC flyweight title. Reis is hoping to prevent Johnson from making UFC history with a 10th title defense, which if successful, will tie Anderson Silva’s record for most successful UFC title defenses.
For Reis, the opportunity to square off with Johnson — whom many consider the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world — is a dream come true. Ranked No. 3 in the UFC, Reis has won five of his last six bouts, including his three most recent fights.
Originally scheduled to fight in 2016, the fight was cancelled due to an injury to Johnson. Initially disappointed his shot at the title was postponed, Reis believes the delay was to his benefit because he fine-tuned his skills during two victories in the past year.
“I believe everything happens for a reason,” Reis recently told MMA Fighting. “The fight didn’t happen last year, it was canceled three weeks before, when I was super well-prepared, but I used this extra time really well. I fought twice, did two more training camps, and evolved a lot. I was ready then, and I believe I’m even better this time.”
Headlining a UFC event for the first time in his career, Reis is not lacking in confidence as he is about to face Johnson. Having trained for seven years with former bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz (who beat Johnson in 2011), Reis believes his ground game and tips from Cruz will carry him to victory on April 15.
“It helps a lot because Dominick Cruz talked to me about openings in his game, things that happened,” Reis said. “He shares that with me, and it helps a lot. He fought (Johnson) for five rounds and he knows a lot about his strength and cardio. But the good thing about it is that Dominick gives us so much confidence. Training with him every day is such an advantage for us.
“I’m focused, confident and prepared. I’ll win this fight and definitely rematch him right after. That’s how it will start. I want to dominate this division. After I defeat him, he deserves a rematch more than anyone for the multiple times he defended the belt.”
Reis is ranked No. 6 in the USA Today/MMA Junkie rankings, No. 4 by FOX Sports, No. 5 by Ranking MMA and No. 4 by MMA Mania.
Johnson is considered the top-ranked pound-for-pound fighter in the world today.
Ringside: Looking to get back in title contention, the hard-hitting Stephens is set to face former Jungle Fight featherweight champion Renato Moicana. Stephens, 30, is coming off a tough loss to Frankie Edgar back at UFC 205 in New York and Moicana, 27, is coming off a split-decision win over Zubaira Tukhugov at UFC 198.
Having lost two of his past three fights, Stephens (25-13, 12-12 UFC) is looking to hand Moicana (10-0-1, 2-0 UFC) his first loss as the Brazilian will fight out of his native Brazil for the first time in his career. Currently ranked No. 5 in the UFC, Stephens is ranked No. 11 by USA Today/MMA Junkie, No. 5 by FOX Sports, No. 9 by Ranking MMA and No. 5 by MMA Mania.
Reis quotes courtesy Guilherme Cruz MMA Fighting.