One of the newest additions to the upper echelon of the UFC’s 205-pound weight class, Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1), is set for a big matchup in his next time out.
It was revealed in late October that the promotion had booked a main event slot for the former king of RIZIN. Standing across from Prochazka on February 27 will be the recent two-time UFC title challenger, Dominick Reyes (12-2).
With the bout being booked months out, “Denisa” is already preparing but won’t start hard training until around Christmas time. And despite Reyes’ rough outing against the now champion, Jan Blachowicz, Prochazka is still taking his opponent seriously.
“A little bit,” Prochazka responded to MyMMANews on BROADENED HORIZIN when asked if he was surprised to get the main event spot. “But from the start, in the UFC, we talked about it with my team and our idea is to go directly for the title. And I think this fight with Reyes is with that idea. I feel ready for that fight. I need to change some mistakes from my last fight. But I believe I will win.
“I don’t ignore that [performance vs. Blachowicz]. Because it was a nice fight with Blachowicz. And I think it’s a big opportunity for me. I treat Reyes like a top fighter in the UFC and in the world. So it’s an opportunity for me to fight with him and win this fight.”
For the Czech Republic representative, this will be the first five-round tilt of his eight-year career. Though, during his time in RIZIN, Prochazka found himself competing in eight 10-minute first-round contests. He has fought in nine total bouts with that differentiating factor as one also came in Fusion FN.
Prochazka is confident that the length of fights is something that doesn’t matter nor does it affect him. He believes a big key to handling any amount of time is breath control. And, as we’ve seen by how he fights, he doesn’t ever intend for them to last all that long, anyway.
The 28-year old Jetsaam Gym product has finished a staggering 24 of his 27 career wins via knockout or TKO. The most recent of which came at UFC 251 in his promotional debut against another former title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir.
In total, the former RIZIN light heavyweight champ has only seen the third round on three occasions.
As many might expect, going from the huge spectacle that is RIZIN to a less flashy UFC product can be a weird adjustment. Especially during these times in the world where no fans are in attendance for UFC shows. But the Czech doesn’t care. Ultimately, he finds the experience he accrued prior to his UFC arrival valuable.
“It’s a very big difference, RIZIN and UFC,” he said. “The entrances, the show around it. I’m very glad that I was in RIZIN and to have the [experience] with the big shows in fighting. Because now I believe now is the time just for fighting. No show around the fighting. Just purely walking to the cage and doing my best.”
With a win over Reyes in February, Jiri Prochazka puts himself arguably next in line for a title shot or one win away at the very least. Standing next to him in the row of contenders is the rejuvenated Glover Teixeira who just recently extended his winning streak to five by dispatching Thiago Santos.
However, the UFC has plans to do a champion vs. champion fight pitting the aforementioned Blachowicz against middleweight champ, Israel Adesanya. This would mark Blachowicz’s first title defense attempt and it would be one that Prochazka believes the 205er would retain. He noted that Adesanya may not be ready for the weight adjustment.
In the end, “Denisa” is focused on himself and is fine with whichever direction the UFC takes as he charges towards his ultimate goal.
“I really don’t care,” Prochazka said of Adesanya getting a light heavyweight title shot. “Adesanya is the champion of the middleweights. I think the champion can fight with another champion. So that’s logically normal. But Glover, I think he won his fight and he won [against] this hard opponent, Santos. So it’s up to UFC.”