For the 37-year-old from Cieszyn, Poland, it wasn’t just the culmination of years of hard work, but a testament to the power of persistence, a sign to all fighters (and all people, for that matter), that getting knocked down is the end of the journey only when you refuse to get back up and fight.

“I just want to show kids to never surrender,” Blachowicz said. “They have to always believe in themselves, and this is the most important thing. If you work hard, believe in yourself, dreams come true. You have to work hard and believe in what you do.”

Blachowicz got knocked down a few times over the course of his UFC career, most notably during a stretch from 2015 to 2017 where he lost four of five fights. But after a majority decision loss to Patrick Cummins in 2017, Blachowicz went back to his former coach, Robert Jocz, and kicked off an 8-1 run capped off by his finish of Reyes. It was a night where he had no doubt about the outcome.

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“When I came to Fight Island, everything was perfect,” said Blachowicz. “I felt great, my acclimation was good, my last sparring was amazing. My mental training was really good, my visualization was really good, I did a really good job with weight cutting, and I just felt that the night was going to be my night. It was a long journey for me, a couple losses, wins, then again losses, and finally I came back to my old coach and together we got the title shot. I thought, no, I cannot mess up this thing. I worked for this all my life and finally I’m there. So tonight, I’m gonna win this fight. I don’t care who’s gonna be over there, how good Dominick is gonna be, on the night, I’m gonna be better.”