A former UFC title challenger, Wilson Reis saw his octagon run come to an end late last year, but the Brazilian vet says he leaves the organization with no regrets.

“I just had a great run in the UFC,” Reis told MMA Junkie. “I’m definitely upset with my losses but happy with my wins and to fight Demetrious Johnson. I dreamed to fight in the UFC, and I was in the UFC for six years, so for me, it was definitely – I’m not sad. I’m happy with my performance.”

Reis, who had a lengthy run for Bellator, as well, came to the UFC in 2013, posting six wins in his first eight appearances and earning a shot at then-flyweight champion Johnson in April 2017. Reis suffered a third-round submission loss.

In his return to action, Reis drew future double champ Henry Cejudo, who was able to score a second-round TKO. Reis’ slide continued with a decision loss to perennial contender John Moraga.

Reis then rebounded with a win over Ben Nguyen, but an April 2019 loss to fellow Brazilian Alexandre Pantoja saw his time with the promotion come to an end when the organization elected not to renew his expired contract.

“My last fight, unfortunately, I was in great shape – I had a great camp here at Alliance MMA, all my coaches – and then, it was such, like, bad luck,” Reis said. “There were a couple of things I should have done with my gameplan, but I kind of stayed right in front of Pantoja. He landed a good right hand, and when I took the right hand, all my weight went back to my left foot. At the same second, I broke the bone. When I fell down, I knew something was wrong.”

Reis credits referee Jason Herzog for stepping in rather quickly, recognizing there was an issue. A broken ankle forced Reis to the sidelines, and when he was cleared to fight this past November, UFC officials declined to book him at either flyweight or bantamweight.

Reis admits he was disappointed to see his time in the UFC end, but he didn’t take any time to feel sorry for himself.

“I’m a very positive guy; I just think of the positive things that will come with it,” Reis said. “You just have to accept it. The longer it takes to accept it, the more it’s going to hurt. So for me, I just have to accept this. Now we’re out of the UFC. We did our best there. We had great performances. We had a great story with the UFC. Now I just have to accept it and go to the next chapter.

“Obviously, I wish I could have done better, but I’m satisfied, and let’s move on to the next. Let’s go on to the next step.”

For Reis, that next move is ARES FC, an upstart promotion looking to build a big profile in the European and African markets. In his promotional debut, Reis (23-10) is expected to face fellow UFC veteran Taylor Lapilus (16-3).

The bout is currently targeted for October, but of course the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has left global scheduling of any events very much up in the air. Still, Reis is happy to have a fight on the horizon.

“I’m very excited and happy that I have a date I’m going to fight,” Reis said. “Well, we don’t have a date, but we have something going on. We have the promotion. The fight’s already signed and everything: Taylor Lapilus. We just don’t have a date. But I’m signed with ARES right now. I’m excited with this new promotion.”

Reis said he’s open for a return to the UFC and holds no ill will toward the promotion. In fact, he told UFC matchmakers that if they’re struggling to fill cards once the organization is back to hosting live events, he’s happy to step in on short notice.

But his focus, Reis insists, is on his future at ARES FC. He’s going to stay at bantamweight for now, and he’s aiming to capture the new promotion’s title belt.

But more than anything, he’s just anxious to step into a cage once again.

“For me, the most important thing to me is just to be happy,” Reis said. “I’m not doing anything that I don’t want to do. Right now, I just want to keep fighting.

“I love fighting. I’m healthy. I’m 35. I’m fighting ARES right now, so my goal is to win the belt over there and then see what’s coming next.”

To hear the full interview with Reis, check out the video below.

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