This past Saturday night in the main event of UFC 295, the vacant light heavyweight title was on the line. Jiri Prochazka (29-4-1) was looking to regain the title he never lost inside the octagon while Alex Pereira (9-2) was looking to become just the ninth fighter in history to win a second UFC title in two different weight classes.
Jiri Prochazka won the title in June 2022, but suffered a severe shoulder injury before he was supposed to defend his title last December. He vacated the title so he didn’t have to hold up the division. Jamahal Hill stepped in and won the title. However, Hill also had to vacate the title after tearing his achilles. Saturday, Prochazka had the chance to regain the title he never lost.
To do that, he needed to defeat former middleweight champ Alex Pereira. Pereira started out strong doing immediate damage to the lead leg of Prochazka. Prochazka is a fighter who relies on his movement so the leg kicks were key early on for the former UFC middleweight champion. Prochazka used a takedown and ground control in the first to take the round.
In the second, Prochazka seemed to be finding a nice rhythm on the feet. He even appeared to stun Pereira a couple of times. However, Pereira remained composed. After a big right hand, Prochazka really put the pressure on, but he left himself open for a beautiful left hand counter. Prochazka got dropped but he bounced up into a takedown attempt.
Pereira blasted him with elbows to the side and Prochazka fell to his back. The referee stopped the fight and most thought the stoppage was pre-mature. However, in his post-fight interview, the former UFC champion said he wasn’t all there and agreed with the stoppage.
What’s next after UFC 297?
This was a crushing loss for Prochazka who you could tell was gutted by the loss. He worked so hard to quickly return from the shoulder injury and he was looking good on Saturday until the finish. Now, he’ll go back to the drawing board and work his way back to the light heavyweight title.
Considering his standing and his performance at UFC 295, I think he might only need one impressive win before he gets another crack at the title. So, coming off the loss, what should be next for him? Well, I think he’s going to want to get in there as soon as possible. Prochazka hasn’t been the most active and I can assure you that he’s going to be hungrier than ever following this defeat.
In looking at the division, there are two fights that jump out to me. I like the idea of him facing either Anthony Smith or Nikita Krylov next. Those two make the most sense considering the rankings and considering the fights that are already booked. Smith has name recognition and Krylov has won three in a row. An impressive win over either of those guys has Prochazka right back in the UFC title picture.