Roberto Godoi black belt Wilson Reis will be making his return to the cage tomorrow in a 140lbs. clash against Team Quest's Victory Athletics' Brain Caraway. I've actually commented one of Caraway's fights and he's an athletic guy with great submissions. The problem? He's facing one of the top feather/bantamweight prospects in the entire sport: Wilson Reis (pronounced "Hayes"). Don't take my word for it; just listen to Jordan Breen:
"His enormous talent and potential sticks out like a sore thumb," added Jordan Breen, a writer and radio talk show host with Sherdog.com. "I'm always acutely interested in MMA prospects, but I generally try to restrain from being enthusiastic; this sport is one in which prospects can really crash and burn dramatically. Yet, I find it extremely hard not to be outright excited about Reis' potential as a fighter. He's like dynamite incarnate."
Reis' performances in his last two wins have gotten many hardcore fans of the sport excited. There have been several threads on some of MMA's biggest message forums discussing Reis as a future challenger to current WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber -- one who could potentially defeat him and supplant him as the No. 1-ranked featherweight in the sport.
But is it too early to talk about Faber and Reis in the same sentence? It's a question without an easy answer.
"It's hard to say how he stacks up among the world's best at 135 or 145 pounds," said Breen. "We are, after all, talking about a guy with only four fights. However, he hasn't just won those four fights, he's absolutely trounced his opposition. Justin Robbins is a decent, middle-of-the-road 135-pounder and Reis just destroyed him. It would be a tad premature to start dreaming of clashes with (Miguel) Torres or Faber, but he's definitely a guy who appears to have all the potential to be a star in the lower weight classes."
I've had the honor of rolling with Wilson on many occasions. To say his jiu-jitsu is good is an understatement. He's got extremely good fundamentals with explosive athleticism to boot. More importantly, he's got great wrestling, too, so this is not your average guard player looking for a sloppy triangle late in the third round. He can work effectively from top or bottom or transition quickly between the two.
Two more items of note about Reis. First, he takes the back like no one I've ever seen. Aside from technical back-taking techniques, he is literally able to "jump" into a back taking position. He literally jumps in the air and spins into it. Second, if you watch Reis' last fight at "EliteXC: Primetime", Reis had a deep armbar in on his opponent, but the submission wasn't enough to force the tap. Reis transitioned to a traingle, but that also wasn't enough for the tap. Rather than release the submission and give top position to a strong wrestler, Reis worked his way into a new position - an oma plata - to take the back and sink the rear naked choke. Folks, it is rare to see someone not land a submission without giving up position, even in pure BJJ tournaments. As aforementioned, Reis has incredibly strong fundamentals with slick submissions and fantastic athleticism. Woe be to anyone unfortunate enough to spar or roll with him. From personal experience, I can tell you it's not easy.
Photo by Esther Lin.