Wilson Reis saw his shot at UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson slip though his fingers after “Mighty Mouse” was forced out of UFC 201 with an injury last July. Seven months later, Reis is fighting an opponent who’s not even ranked in the top 15.
Scheduled to return to the Octagon against Yuta Sasaki at UFC 208, which takes place Saturday night in Brooklyn, Reis admits his frustration when he got the news that his next bout with be against Sasaki, who holds a 2-2 record under the UFC banner.
"I was not satisfied,” Reis told MMA Fighting. "I was surprised, but I saw that everyone had fights booked and there was no one left. But I was surprised because they didn’t give me a top 5, a top 10, or a top 15. I don’t know why I got Sasaki. I think it’s because no one else was available, and he was going to fight Matheus Nicolau, who failed a drug test, so the UFC gave me him.
"It’s a fight to keep me busy,” he continued. "It’s a tough fight, of course, but if I didn’t take this fight I’d stay away for more time, so let’s win well and call out Demetrious."
Reis’ goal is to win impressively, and what drives him to get the victory is his post-fight plan.
"My motivation is to win and win well,” Reis said. "If I don’t win, or if I win and don’t impress, I won’t be able to get a title shot. That’s my motivation. My motivation is what’s next, what happens after this fight. Winning impressively, I believe I’m next for the title.”
And by winning impressively, Reis means finishing Sasaki and leaving no doubts that the UFC should give him a shot at “Mighty Mouse”.
"I believe I’ll be able to land some good strikes standing because I fight well against taller southpaws,” the Brazilian said. "I think I will hurt him standing. I’ll either knock him out, or I’ll take him to the ground and submit him. My focus is to impress and leave no doubts I’m next for the title.
"Aside from (Joseph) Benavidez, who won six straight, even though his last fight was a bit controversial, I think a convincing win puts me up there, for sure. It makes sense. I’m the only one in a three-fight winning streak after this, and my fighting style is an interesting match-up. I’m a grappler, and Demetrious had some trouble in his last fight. I think it would be cool.”
When Johnson-Reis was cancelled, the UFC decided to award the next Ultimate Fighting winner a shot at the championship, and the reality show’s winner Tim Elliot came close to scoring a huge upset when he fought the champion in December.
"I've seen many mistakes from both Demetrious and (Elliot),” Reis said of the title fight. "I think Tim didn't believe he’d be able to beat Demetrious. The choke was locked and he couldn't finish. I think he lacked confidence. Demetrious Johnson is good everywhere, but he’s less experienced in the jiu-jitsu area."
"I was happy (Johnson won),” he added. "It’s destiny. I will fight him and I will defeat him. It’s a matter of time. After this fight, I’ll get him later this year."