UFC Fight Night 34 takes place on January 4, 2014. Many new faces will be sen on the card, including Jon Delos Reyes, a rising Filipino prospect from Guam.
The Ultimate Fighting Championship finally set its sights on South East Asia and will have their first show in Singapore at the luxurious Marina Bay Sands Hotel. UFN 34 will be headlined by two menacing welterweights as former Strikeforce champion Tarec Saffiedine makes his long-awaited debut against South Korea’s top 170 pounder in Hyun Gyu “The Ace” Lim.
It is a historic day for MMA in the Philippines as Dave Galera becomes the first-ever homegrown UFC fighter. However Filipino fans will surely come out and support another full-blooded Pinoy fighter who will also make his UFC debut, Jon “The Heat” Delos Reyes.
Delos Reyes was born on August 18, 1987 in Ordot Chalan Pago, Guam, USA, of Filipino parents who hail from Quezon City, Philippines.
“The Heat” is undefeated since 2010 and is currently on a four-fight winning streak including stoppages over Josh Duenas and PXC bantamweight standout Troy Bantiag. Delos Reyes meets top Hawaiian prospect Dustin Kimura as one of the undercard fights of UFN 34. He has prepared himself for the biggest of his career at The MMA Lab at Glendale, Arizona alongside former UFC Lightweight title holder Benson “Smooth” Henderson, Jamie “C4” Varner, Jon “Super Saiyan” Tuck, and many other great athletes from the famed MMA gym. MMA-in-ASIA’s Zike Sugawara spoke with Delos Reyes about his beginnings in MMA, his fight camp, and his pride in his roots.
MMA-in-ASIA: For UFC fans who might not be familiar with you, can you talk a little bit about yourself?
Jon: Yes. Well, my name is Jon Delos Reyes. My friends call me “Jon”, “JDR”, or “The Heat”. I am originally from Guam, U.S.A. born and raised. However, both my parents are Filipino and I am very proud of that.
MMA-in-ASIA: When did you start training martial arts and what was the first martial arts that you learned?
Jon: I started training martial arts in high school. I was a shy kid and kept to myself growing up. I didn’t want to be bullied around so I took up Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as a means of self-defense (if ever needed). I started BJJ in 2005 and then began learning kickboxing under Sonny Chargualaf and Countershot. Training everyday kept me disciplined, in shape, and out of trouble. As the years passed, being a martial artist became a lifestyle for me.
MMA-in-ASIA: How often did you get bullied in school and how did you deal with it?
Jon: I was bullied in high school. But it wasn’t anything too bad, just the typical older kids trying to assert their territory. I tried to avoid them the best I can. I do not tolerate bullying.
MMA-in-ASIA: Can you tell us the history behind your moniker “The Heat”? Who gave you that name?
Jon: I actually have a few nicknames. “The Heat” in particular was given to me when I first came out to train in Las Vegas in 2008. My trainer admired my tenacity so much and began calling me “The Heat”. And plus, I love the Miami Heat Basketball team.
MMA-in-ASIA: Now, six years after you won your first-ever MMA fight, here are you now preparing to make your UFC debut. What are your thoughts on getting signed by the world’s largest MMA promotion?
Jon: Initially I was shocked, surprised. I was very emotional. It means a lot to me to have the UFC believe in my talent so much that they wanted me on their roster. Coming from Guam, we are such a small island in the pacific that making it on to the biggest MMA promotion means the world to me.
MMA-in-ASIA: Is it a matter of pride to be a rare Filipino and Guamanian fighter in the UFC?
Jon: I am very proud of my Roots. “Mabuhay and Hafa Adai”! My “Kuya from another Nanay” (“brother from another mother”) Jon Tuck is Guam’s first UFC fighter. It’s honor to be following in his foot steps.
MMA-in-ASIA: In your UFC debut, you will be facing a very tough opponent in Dustin Kimura. Can you give your thoughts about him?
Jon: Dustin is a UFC veteran. I believe this is his third fight with the organization. He has good boxing and very good Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. So this will probably be my toughest fight yet. With that said, I am training really hard for this fight. I am training like never before. Everything in camp is going well and feels good about our chances.
MMA-in-ASIA: Where and how have you prepared for the biggest fight of your career?
Jon: I trained in Glendale, Arizona at the MMA Lab. I had to stay focused and keep my eye on the prize, which is victory over my opponent.
MMA-in-ASIA: How’s the MMA scene in Guam right now?
Jon: The MMA scene is growing on Guam. There are many up and coming hungry fighters.
MMA-in-ASIA: What is your definition of success?
Jon: Success is when you work so hard to get where you want to be and then finally getting there. It’s an overwhelming sensation. However, when you do get to where you want to be, you feel like there’s still room for improvement. Never stop learning. Never stop growing.
MMA-in-ASIA: Who is your biggest inspiration?
Jon: My biggest inspirations are my mom and grandma. They both worked hard to raise my siblings and I. They taught me life lessons like being humble and working hard. I admit I gave them a hard time growing up, but now I truly appreciate them and I am very thankful for them. Without them I would not be where I am today.
MMA-in-ASIA: Where do you see yourself three to four years from now?
Jon: Hopefully the UFC Bantamweight or Flyweight Champion of the World!
MMA-in-ASIA: Are we going to see the Guam and the Philippine flags in your debut?
Jon: You definitely will!
MMA-in-ASIA: Any shout outs?
Jon I want to thank God for all His blessings and guidance; my mom (Mel Espinoza), my dad, my brothers and sisters for all the love and support. I want to thank my teams: Team Countershot/SPR SYN MMA SoNo BJJ, and The MMA Lab for helping prepare me for this fight. – I would like to take this time to thank my coaches Sonny Chargualaf, Jon Tuck and Jason Joson (Pa Pi). They have been with me from the beginning and always believed in what I can do, my girlfriend Nicole Casallo for being there for me through thick and thin, Lloyd Cubacub, Leonard Cubacub, April Usualla, Cristiana Cruz and Natalie Cruz Tuck, Jerald and Jeric Espinoza, Mike R. and Millie. Also, thank you to the people of Guam and the Philippines for the support. I will fight my heart out and dedicate this fight to all of you, most especially those affected by Typhoon Yolanda. God Speed