A lot has changed in the UFC’s light heavyweight fold since we last saw Jiri Prochazka in action.
The Czech, who is an impressive 29-3-1 in his career, won the 205-pound title with a late rear-naked choke finish of Glover Teixeira in June of last year in what was an outstanding back-and-forth contest. But before a rematch scheduled for last December could take place, the 31-year-old announced in a solemn post to social media that he had been forced to relinquish the title after suffering a serious injury to his shoulder in training.
Thus began something of a merry-go-round at the summit of the light heavyweight division. First, Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev fought out a draw in a fight to contest the vacant championship, with Dana White apparently blacklisting both afterwards. Jamahal Hill would eventually claim the crown with a unanimous decision win against former champ Teixeira — before he, too, was forced to hand over the title after suffering an achilles injury.
And now, nearly a year after Prochazka’s injury, he stands on the verge of reclaiming championship — provided he can get past Alex Pereira, a fighter who wasn’t even in the same division the last time that the Czech competed.
But in his opponent, Prochazka says he sees a kindred spirit.
“I see it warrior against the warrior,” he told the media, including The Mac Life, on Wednesday. “I don’t want to speak about my samurai character or something like that, but it’s truth. I was inspired my years by Bushido and this type of focus for a fight and everything what you’re doing with your life, do it with all you focus, give all your heart to your performance. That’s why we are warriors, because we go there and there is nothing like it.”
Pereira, the former middleweight champion, is generally considered to be one of the premier strikers in the sport but Prochazka says that he will not be overawed at facing the former two-weight GLORY champ.
“If I can say it now, I think that Pereira’s style in standup is much sharper than Jamahal Hill’s style,” he said. “I just respect that everything has to go on. I realized that I’m not afraid, that when I put the belt out to other guys, that I will not win that again after my recovery. That’s my belief, that I will take the belt again, and that’s it.”