The 32-year-old flyweight, who's widely regarded as one of the best grapplers in the division, challenged the champion Demetrious Johnson in the main event Saturday's UFC card in Kansas City, Mo. The title bout didn't go too well for the challenger, as Reis was outclassed by Johnson on the feet and in the clinch for the majority of the first two rounds.
But in round number three, things went ever further south, as Johnson was able to secure mount, transition to an armbar, and force Reis — a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt — to tap out.
The result of the fight didn’t sit well with Reis, who takes pride in his grappling background and had never been submitted in his 10-year-long MMA career.
“Thats where I come from, I come from Brazilian jiu-jitsu, so that hurts more than a knockout for me,” Reis said at Saturday’s post-fight conference. “But props to him. At the end of the day, I made a mistake and he capitalized on it. I just have to move forward now and obviously go back to the drawing board and watch my mistakes. He did a good job right before the armbar. The armbar was a surprise. It was very good and he was really fast doing it. I was just like, before, he really hurt me a little bit with the elbows; thats why I lost control of the fight.”
Entering a championship bout with the pound-for-pound king is a difficult task to be prepared for, but Reis says the experience fighting Johnson was everything he expected. And despite the defeat, Reis calls the fight one of the most special moments of his life.
“It was everything I expected,” Reis explained. “He’s very game, very ready pretty much everywhere. I was pretty comfortable in the fight and I was, little by little, getting to my game plan, but he did a really good job keeping the distance and his hips and head away from me. He did a good job keeping me away from him and all the props to him.
“At the end of the day, this was a huge opportunity for me. I want to thank Dana White, all the UFC matchmakers for this opportunity, and all the fans in Kansas City and in Brazil who showed so much love, and all the media and everybody. It’s a tough pill to swallow, a tough loss, but it is what it is. This is not my first loss. I just have to get back to my coaches and get better for my next fight. I’m blessed to be in this position and the walkout in the main event was the most special moment of my life so far, and it was an amazing night. Unfortunately I came out with the loss, but I'm going to come back stronger for my next fight.”