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Wilson Reis reveals how Dominick Cruz changed his MMA career

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Wilson Reis won the EliteXC featherweight championship in 2008, but his life changed a lot since. After a nine-fight career under the Bellator banner, the talented fighter entered the UFC as a bantamweight in 2013, but UFC Fight Night 49 marks a new start.

Ranked No. 15 at 135 pounds, Reis cuts down to flyweight to battle Joby Sanchez on Saturday night in Tulsa, and he credits former UFC and WEC bantamweight champion Dominick Cruz for his recent evolution.

"It’s my second full training camp here at Alliance MMA, with guys like Dominick Cruz and Phil Davis," he said. "I evolved a lot since my fight with Iuri (Alcantara), and I’m going to feel great at flyweight. My training camp was perfect."

"Every time I came here, they are better and with more talents," he continued. "Alliance MMA has great fighter at lower weight classes, and they have the best coaches in the United States. I’m in a great team, so I feel comfortable in the fight because I can have a strong camp."

Reis first trained with Cruz five years ago, but he recently made the permanent move to San Diego.

"I train with him on a regular basis now. My relationship with Alliance MMA started through Dominick," he said. "He invited me to train with him when he was getting ready to fight (Joseph) Benavidez in 2009. Since I moved to San Diego, I train with him every single day now. I’m really glad that Dominick made this connection and helped me coming to the team."

Originally set to face Tim Elliott at UFN 49, Reis had a significant change when Elliott suffered an injury and was replaced by promotional newcomer in Sanchez.

"They made the change 10 days before the fight, so I couldn’t change much in my training and game plan," Reis said. "He moves like Tim Elliott, but has a karate style. He doesn’t switch stances like Elliott, but has a bigger reach. The game plans didn’t change much, only a few things. But I’m well trained and ready to fight."

Sanchez enters the UFC with a perfect 6-0 record with six stoppage victories, so the Brazilian is aware of his abilities.

"It’s a tough fight. This kid is coming off six wins, is undefeated, so I can’t underestimate him," he said. "He didn’t fight tough competition yet, he’s a young kid, but I don’t want to give him space. He’s as tough as Tim Elliott."

Elliott is ranked No. 11 in the flyweight division, so going from a ranked opponent to a UFC newcomer didn’t please Reis. He’s not upset, though.

"I’m not disappointed," he explained. "They gave me the option to don’t take the fight on short notice, but I chose to fight because I’m ready. It’s going to be a great fight. He just beat Antonio Banuelos, so he’s ready. I want this win to get at the top 10 of the division."