If his fight against Richard Palomino at King of the Cage: Martial Law is his last as a mixed martial artist, then Roger “El Rey” Reyes wants to go out a winner.
His fight against Palomino Sunday, Sept. 18, will actually be Reyes’ first in roughly a year, as well as possibly his last fight. Reyes, 24, took time off to welcome his first child into the world, a girl. While he said he wanted to “take some time to recharge my body and spend time with my child, I’m hungry to fight again. I know it’s been a while, but it’ll be worth it.”
Reyes (12-3) grew up competing as a wrestler in high school in Fontana, California, where he looked up to the likes of Olympic champion wrestler Dan Gable and former UFC welterweight champion Georges St. Pierre. Reyes’ introduction to MMA came when he became a sparring partner for then-King of the Cage welterweight champion David Gomez.
“I first started training at the Shark Tank with him, and ever since I’ve just been hooked and I’ve been fighting,” Reyes said about training with Gomez at the California gym. Reyes currently trains at the UFC Gym in Rancho Cucamonga, California, and said his time away from fighting helped him grow as both an individual and a fighter.
“I’m happy to say that I’m a lot stronger, healthier and smarter coming back to the game,” Reyes said. “I can’t wait to make my return and show the world what I can do now.”
What Reyes is most looking forward to is showing off his improved striking repertoire as he begins to transition from competing in MMA to Muay Thai. He’s even enlisted professional boxers in his preparation, as well as Bellator fighter Darrion Caldwell.
“The stand-up is what I like to do,” Reyes said. He has plans to compete in his very first Muay Thai after his bout at King of the Cage, and for a title, no less. Reyes isn’t shutting the door completely on MMA after Sept. 18, and he’s not looking past his opponent.
“I never really have a strategy when I step into the cage,” Reyes said. “I use what I know, and I’ll find out during the fight. But I’ll definitely move at a faster pace.”
But regardless of how his fight at King of the Cage goes out, Reyes said he still has something to show people in the fight game.
“I want to do a lot more stand-up, and doing actual Muay Thai and boxing is going to be useful,” Reyes said. “But I’m also just going to take it step-by-step.”