Cejudo signed with the UFC in 2014 and needed four wins to earn a shot at flyweight kingpin Demetrious Johnson, and almost fought Reis in his run to the top. Cejudo’s last UFC win was against Jussier Formiga, who had just defeated Reis via unanimous decision in Brazil.
"I was really happy when they offered me this fight,” Reis told MMA Fighting of Saturday night’s bout with Cejudo in Edmonton, Canada. "That’s exactly what I wanted to go back to the top of the division.
"I wanted to fight him (for years) because he was already at the top of the division right after signing with the UFC. When I fought Formiga, I knew that the winner would fight Cejudo, but I lost. When I lost to Demetrious in my last fight, I wanted to fight Cejudo or (Joseph) Benavidez, so it was perfect."
"I love fighting guys like (Cejudo) because he’s aggressive, so that gives me a lot of opportunities to attack and to counter and to get him on the ground,” Reis said. "I’m an aggressive fighter too, so it’s going to be a great fight. I think about this fight or more than two years, so it's going to be a good one."
Cejudo is one of the most decorated wrestlers in the UFC, and Reis says "his striking is almost as good as his wrestling now.” The Brazilian sees Cejudo’s jiu-jitsu as his "weakest part” in MMA, and plans to take advantage of that.
Leading up to the UFC 215 flyweight bout, Cejudo flew to Natal, Brazil, to train with Patricio Freire and Patricky Freire and his longtime wrestling coach Eric Albarracin, and Reis believes he also wanted to get a few tips with Patricio, who defeated him under the Bellator banner in 2010 and 2011.
"Patricio and I fought twice already, so he probably tried to gather some information of those fights with Patricio. That’s a clever move,” Reis said. “(But) many things have changed since we fought. I’m more experienced, especially in the striking area, and my jiu-jitsu is way more adapted to MMA now."
"I was fighting at featherweight back then, so I was way out of my division,” he continued. "There was no flyweight division back then, so I was competing at 145. I have an excellent weight cut now and fighting at flyweight is perfect for me. It doesn’t bother me that he was training with Patricio because I’m a different fighter now."
Coming off a loss to Johnson, Reis’ goal is to get a second chance at the flyweight king. A win at UFC 215 might not be enough to guarantee that, so he has a few names in mind for a late-2017 return to the Octagon.
"I’m in this division to become champion,” Reis said. "I had my opportunity and didn’t win the belt. I evolved a lot with that fight against someone like Demetrious, and this fight will maybe put me in the top 3 of the division. With a win over Cejudo, I’d like to fight Benavidez, but I heard that he’s injured and won’t fight again this year.
"I want to fight four times this year, the final one in December. I’m focused on Cejudo, but since Benavidez won’t fight this year, we’ll see what happens. Maybe Ray Borg, or maybe (Sergio) Pettis. I have to be smart and fight the right guy to get to the belt again."