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 Jiri Prochazka of Czech Republic celebrates after his submission victory over Glover Teixeira of Brazil in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 275 event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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Jiří Procházka Timeline | UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira

A Look Back At Jiří Procházka’s UFC Career Thus Far Ahead Of His Light Heavyweight Title Fight Against Alex Pereira In UFC 295’s Main Event At Madison Square Garden

Former light heavyweight champion Jiri Procházka has a chance to reclaim his throne atop the 205-pound division against former middleweight king Alex Pereira at UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira in New York City.

Despite having only three UFC fights to his name, this will be Procházka’s second time fighting for a UFC title. In November of last year, Procházka suffered a serious shoulder injury that sidelined him for 12 months. Now, with the UFC light heavyweight title vacant and up for grabs, Procházka is first in line to reclaim a belt he never lost in the Octagon.

On November 11, Procházka headlines one of the UFC’s biggest events of the year in the Mecca of combat sports, Madison Square Garden. Ahead of his much-anticipated return to the Octagon, we look back at his short, yet captivating, UFC career thus far.

UFC Debut – July 12, 2020

vs Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 251

(Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic punches Volkan Oezdemir of Switzerland in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic punches Volkan Oezdemir  in their light heavyweight fight during the UFC 251 event at Flash Forum on UFC Fight Island on July 12, 2020 on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Entering the UFC with a 26-3-1 record, Procházka was one of mixed martial arts’ hottest prospects. Having finished nine of his last 10 opponents coming into his promotional debut, the UFC wasted no time matching him up against an elite contender, Volkan Oezdemir.

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    Oezdemir, the UFC’s current No. 9 ranked light heavyweight, was coming off back-to-back victories, including a Performance of the Night knockout against Ilir Latifi.

    Only a minute into the fight, Procházka already made his presence known. With his hands down low or making gestures at his opponent, Procházka’s gamesmanship was on full display. That psychological warfare got him into trouble early, however, when Oezdemir landed a flurry of heavy shots that appeared to wobble the Czech newcomer.

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    “For all the boxing and the martial arts, he never read the memo of putting his hands up,” Michael Bisping said during the first round.

    Through the first five minutes, Bisping had a fair point; Procházka was out struck 42-26 and lost the round on the scorecards. At the start of the second, Procházka flipped the script. 30 seconds into the round, he landed a massive head kick, wobbling Oezdemir. Procházka stepped on the gas, forcing a retreating Oezdemir up against the side of the Octagon where Procházka landed a massive 1-2 to shut his opponent’s lights out.

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    This performance showed that while Procházka has an unorthodox style, he can trade perfect technique for unrelenting power that can put a Top 10 opponent away with ease.

    Highlight For The Ages – May 1, 2021

    vs Dominick Reyes at UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs Procházka

    (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

    Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic elbows Dominick Reyes in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
    Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic elbows Dominick Reyes in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

    10 months later, Procházka, having already defeated the then-No. 7 ranked contender, would face former title challenger Dominick Reyes. Despite coming off two consecutive losses, Reyes competed in back-to-back title fights against Jon Jones and Jan Blachowicz.

    For Procházka, this was a big step up in competition, and a win would guarantee his name gets put on the short list of athletes next in line for a shot at the light heavyweight title. The biggest question going into this fight was how Procházka would handle the elite striking of Reyes, who went 25 minutes with Jones, one of the UFC’s all-time greats.

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    While both athletes were landing an abundance of strikes, it was clear that Procházka had both the power and durability advantage in their exchanges. At the end of the first round, Reyes was wearing most of the damage and looked a step-behind a more polished Procházka than we saw in his debut.

    Through three minutes into the second round, Procházka was walking Reyes down, landing a wide array of punches and kicks, and appeared to be in complete control. Reyes, who was looking for a counter left all fight to try and stop Procházka’s momentum, finally landed a picture-perfect left hand that staggered Procházka and forced a takedown attempt out of him.

    Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic knocks out Dominick Reyes in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
    Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic knocks out Dominick Reyes in a light heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on May 01, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

    Reyes jumped guillotine, which Procházka evaded smartly, allowing him to recover in top position while landing devastating ground-and-pound. Reyes quickly got back to his feet, but Procházka wouldn’t let him off the hook. Procházka chased Reyes back up against the cage, like he did against Oezdemir, and took full advantage. With Reyes shelled up against the side of the Octagon, Procházka landed a spinning back elbow that sent his opponent face first into the mat.

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    “This is an ominous presence coming from the Czech Republic,” Brendan Fitzgerald said.

    Two fights into his UFC career, Procházka had brutally knocked out two Top 10 ranked opponents, and was on his way to a shot at the light heavyweight title.

    Fight Of The Year – June 12, 2022

    vs Glover Teixeira at UFC 275

    (Watch on UFC FIGHT PASS)

    Jiri Prochazka of Czech Republic submits Glover Teixeira of Brazil in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)
    Jiri Prochazka of Czech Republic submits Glover Teixeira of Brazil in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images)

    Now making his third walk to the Octagon, a winner of his last 12 fights, Procházka faced then-champion Glover Teixeira at UFC 275 in Singapore in what would be an instant classic.

    The biggest threat to Procházka in this fight, which he didn’t have to worry about against his previous two opponents, was Teixeira’s elite grappling. And in the first round, it was already evident that Teixeira had an overwhelming advantage in that department.

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    Despite a very even contest on the feet, with Teixeira out striking Procházka 159-157 after 24 and a half minutes, the champion resorted to his wrestling to steal rounds on the judges’ scorecards. Texeira’s eagerness to bring Procházka to the mat would end up being a costly mistake late in the fifth round.

    Entering the fifth, Teixeira was up on two of the judges’ scorecards and was continuing to dominate on the ground. Teixeira secured his fifth takedown of the fight halfway through the final round and it looked like he was on his way to successfully defending his UFC title. Procházka, falling far behind with little time left, had to pull something out of the bag to get his hand raised.

    Jiri Prochazka of Czech Republic punches Glover Teixeira of Brazil in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 275 event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
    Jiri Prochazka of Czech Republic punches Glover Teixeira of Brazil in the UFC light heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 275 event at Singapore Indoor Stadium on June 12, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

    With just under two minutes to go, Procházka reversed positions and started going to work. Procházka was eventually able to maneuver into a crucifix position, which forced Teixeira to let his guard down and try to escape. Procházka locked in a rear naked choke, forcing Teixeira to tap with only 28 seconds left in the round. The Czech Republic had its first UFC champion.

    Having only seen Procházka cruise his way to knockout victories, this fight showed everything he has to offer in the Octagon: striking, grappling, cardio, durability and heart. Despite a flawed performance, Procházka still found a way to get the job done and dethrone the champion.

    Procházka Vacates Title – November 23, 2022

    In November of last year, UFC President Dana White revealed Procházka had suffered what doctors called “the worst shoulder injury we’ve ever seen.” Not wanting to hold up the division while he took a year off to recover, Procházka vacated his belt.

    Unfortunately for Procházka, who was booked to rematch Teixeira at UFC 282 on December 10, 2022, he had to sit out and watch as Jamahal Hill took his place to fight for a title that he never actually lost, but rather vacated out of respect to the rest of the contenders in the division.

    Hill eventually defeated Teixeira at UFC 283 in January, but suffered the same fate as Procházka in the summer when he ruptured his Achillies. Having earned a shot at the title due to Procházka vacating his title, Hill felt obliged to do the same.

    Procházka Makes Highly Anticipated Return – November 11, 2023

    vs Alex Pereira at UFC 295

    (Order UFC 295)

    On November 11, Procházka returns to the Octagon to try and reclaim his light heavyweight throne against former middleweight champion Pereira, who recently defeated Blachowicz in his first mixed martial arts fight at 205 pounds.

    Like Procházka, Pereira’s had a short, yet dominant, reign in the UFC thus far. Pereira has collected three knockout victories over middleweight champion Strickland, Israel Adesanya and Andreas Michailidis, since making his UFC debut at MSG in 2021. Despite a combined nine total fights between the two, Procházka and Pereira have already proven they can turn off the lights against decorated UFC athletes.

    Both fighters hit exceptionally hard, and have very unique striking styles. As mentioned previously, Procházka likes to keep his hands low. So, while he puts his chin more at risk, Procházka can fire debilitating strikes from awkward angles to catch his opponents completely off guard.

    Pereira is unique in a different way. His kickboxing pedigree makes his striking look effortless. With near perfect technique, Pereira doesn’t need a lot of time to read his opponent and find his target. Since neither fighter actively engages in wrestling, it’ll be interesting to see which style prevails in UFC 295’s main event.

    Order UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira

    UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira took place live from Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 11, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass