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Dominick Reyes eager to show new version at UFC 281: 'Skill-wise, I'm Dom 2.0'

Dominick Reyes feels like a new man.

Before his return to the octagon, the former UFC championship challenger feels revitalized and significantly improved. On the preliminary card of Saturday's UFC 281, Reyes (12-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) battles Ryan Spann (20-7 MMA, 6-2 UFC). Reyes also drastically altered his fighting career in advance of his return.

Intending to work with former UFC champion Glover Teixeira, the 32-year-old shifted training facilities and relocated from California to Connecticut. Reyes believes the tweak has significantly affected his performance, which will be evident on Saturday.

“Skill-wise, I’m Dom 2.0,” Reyes told reporters at the UFC 281 media day. “My defense is heavily upgraded, my offense is even better than before. Yeah, I think my timing and my speed it’s faster than it’s ever been, but my defense is heavily upgraded.”

Reyes heads to UFC 281 on an unbeaten run of three fights, the only defeats in his MMA professional career. Reyes has lost three straight fights to Jiri Prochazka, the reigning champion, and past champions Jon Jones and Jan Blachowicz. Reyes thinks it was crucial to switch up his training partners to Teixeira and Alex Pereira, who will face middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in the UFC 281 main event.

“It was really good being out of my comfort zone,” Reyes said. “I never trained out of California, and I went out to Connecticut and trained with those guys. I was the new guy, I took a step back, you know. Alex is fighting for the title. It’s Glover’s gym, you know. It was kind of cool being a student again and yeah, man, I’m ready to go.”

He added:

“Absolutely (it added to my game), my defense is crazy now. You guys are going to see. When Alex and Glover and everybody is like, ‘Bro, it’s really having a hard time getting close to you and touching you.’ That says a lot. I’m very confident and happy.”

Ryan Spann is ranked No. 12 in the UFC's light heavyweight class, five positions behind Dominick Reyes, who is presently ranked No. 7. Spann just defeated Ion Cutelaba at UFC Vegas 54 by submission after applying a guillotine choke in the opening frame.

After participating in Dana White's Contender Series 10 and submitting Emiliano Sordi with a guillotine choke, "Superman" was awarded a contract with the UFC. He had previously served in the contender series once before. At UFC Fight Night 137, he faced Luis Henrique and won by unanimous decision. This was his UFC debut. Ryan Spann has a 6-2 UFC record and a 20-7 record overall in mixed martial arts.

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