Aleksandar Rakic believes he’s the new face of light heavyweight after UFC 259

This past Saturday at UFC 259, top four light heavyweight contenders kicked off the main card. Former title challenger Thiago Santos (21-9) took on Aleksandar Rakic (14-2). Both men were looking to take another step towards the UFC‘s light heavyweight title.

The expectation going into this fight was that it was going to be a fire fight. Both men possessed knockout power and both had highlight finishes inside the octagon. However, that isn’t the fight we got on Saturday night.

The fight was incredibly slow and featured Rakic just picking his shots from the outside. There were a few times where power shots were thrown, however, nothing serious ever landed. Neither man was in trouble at UFC 259.

In the end, Aleksandar Rakic had his hand raised by unanimous decision. After the fight was over, Rakic went over to Dana White’s table and told him that he was the new face of the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. Is that the case?

What’s next after UFC 259?

I will give Aleksandar Rakic this, he’s been sensational since joining the UFC. Since making his debut with the promotion back in 2017, Rakic has gone 6-1 inside the octagon. The only time he lost was to Volkan Oezdemir by split decision.

However, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of people believe that Rakic won the fight against Oezdemir. You could very well make the case that Rakic is unbeaten in the UFC. Rakic has all the makings of a future champion at 205.

He’s got the size, strength, and the skills to make it happen. We’ve seen him show off great kickboxing and we’ve also seen him show off decent skills on the ground. However, his last three fights have failed to wow fight fans.

With that, we know that Rakic is not getting the next UFC title shot. That shot belongs to Glover Teixeira. So with that, where does Rakic go from here? I think where we go from here is we look at the upcoming light heavyweight matchup in May.

Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochazka will fight in May. Whoever wins that fight would matchup up perfectly with Rakic for a title eliminator. Based on rumblings in the background, it appears that the UFC is heading in this direction and that potential title eliminator should be a lot of fun to watch.

UFC rebooks Dominick Reyes – Jiri Prochazka

Dominick Reyes

Later this month, the UFC was scheduled to have a fight night headlined by a light heavyweight matchup between Dominick Reyes (12-2) and Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1). With the upcoming light heavyweight title fight at UFC 259 in March, this fight was huge for the division.

However, Reyes sustained an injury and the fight was called off. The UFC wanted to keep this matchup together so they didn’t even entertain a potential new opponent for Prochazka. Instead, they began to work on a new date that would work with Reyes’ recovery.

Well, today we learned when that fight will take place. MMA Fighting was the first to report that the UFC has booked the fight between Prochazka and Reyes for a new date. The light heavyweight matchup will now take place on May 1st.

Given the new timeline, this could actually be more beneficial for the winner in terms of getting a title shot. Glover Teixeira (32-7) is number one contender in the light heavyweight division. He’s been told that he’s getting the next title shot after UFC 259.

Depending on how the fight goes in a few weeks, Teixeira might be getting his shot over the summer. That would line up perfectly for the winner of the Reyes – Prochazka fight. I could definitely see the winner being the UFC‘s top contender after Glover Teixeira.

UFC title eliminator?

Prochazka made his UFC debut back on Fight Island in July. He took on former title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir. Prochazka showed off his entertaining style and knocked Oezdemir out cold in the second round of their fight.

He’s only lost one time since 2013 and he looks like he can be a force in the UFC’s light heavyweight division. 2020 was a very tough year for Dominick Reyes. He started out the year by taking on Jon Jones for the light heavyweight title.

The fight was razor close and many believed Reyes defeated the pound-for-pound king. However, the judges gave the fight to Jones. Then, Reyes got another title opportunity against Jan Blachowicz at UFC 253. Reyes got knocked out in the second round of that fight.

After starting his career 12-0, Reyes has now lost two-straight. He has a very difficult puzzle in front of him on May 1st. When these two fight, Reyes will either show he’s still one of the best or Jiri Prochazka will show everyone that he’s the real deal.

UFC Update: Injury to Dominick Reyes pushes back the Jiri Prochazka fight

Dominick Reyes

A massive fight in the UFC‘s light heavyweight division is being pushed back. First reported by Farah Hannoun, the fight between Dominick Reyes (12-2) and Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) is off. There are reports circulating this morning saying that a Reyes injury forced the fight back.

Originally, this fight was supposed to headline the UFC‘s fight night on February 27th. However, yesterday a tweet from Jairzinho Rozenstruik signaled that the fight might be in jeopardy. We now know that Rozenstruik – Ciryl Gane is going to headline the 2/27 card. 

At this time, there is no word on the significance of the injury to Dominick Reyes. Reyes was looking to bounce back in 2021 after having a very tough 2020. Dominick Reyes fought Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) last February at UFC 247.

The fight was razor close and many believed that Reyes won the fight. However, the judges gave the fight to Jon Jones. After that fight, Jones would ultimately decide to vacate the light heavyweight title to pursue the heavyweight title.

At UFC 253, Reyes got another opportunity against Jan Blachowicz (27-8). Reyes was looked at as the uncrowned champion going into the contest. However, the legendary Polish Power put Reyes down in the second round to capture the light heavyweight title.

That loss was just the icing on the cake of a rough year for Dominick Reyes. He rode a ton of momentum into that fight with many believing he defeated the goat just to be stopped by Blachowicz. This fight with Prochazka is a chance for him to right the ship.

UFC Newcomer

On the UFC’s first trip to Fight Island, Jiri Prochazka made his highly anticipated debut with the promotion. The global MMA scene was very familiar with Prochazka, but he was a bit of an unknown to a lot of fight fans.

The promotion gave him a tough test right away in former title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir (17-5). The fight was incredibly entertaining and Prochazka showed off some of his personality in that fight.

In the second round, Prochazka landed a massive right hand that put Oezdemir out cold. A huge UFC debut for Prochazka and that win launched him into the top five of the rankings. If he can beat Dominick Reyes whenever they fight, Jiri Prochazka might be getting a title shot in 2021.

UFC: Gane – Rozenstruik to headline Feb. 27th card per Rozenstruik

Ciryl Gane UFC

According to Jairzinho Rozenstruik (11-1), the UFC has a new main event for their fight night on February 27th. Originally, the promotion had been planning on a light heavyweight contest between Dominick Reyes and Jiri Prochazka headlining that card.

Rozenstruik was set to take on top contender, Ciryl Gane (7-0), on the UFC‘s Fight Night on March 13th. However, it appears that everything is being switched around. Rozenstruik announced the news on Twitter yesterday. 

However, he didn’t just announce that his fight with Gane was moving to 2/27, he announced they would be fighting five rounds. That can only mean that the heavyweight clash is the new UFC headliner.

So far, there has been no word from the UFC on what is going on. We are going completely off of the tweet of Rozenstruik, however, if he’s tweeted it out, it must be a done deal. One would have to assume that the fight between Prochazka and Reyes is getting pushed back.

The UFC is no stranger to card shuffling after the crazy 2020 COVID year. With the virus still lingering and restrictions still in place, you can imagine that there will be a lot of altered cards throughout 2021 as well.

UFC’s New Headliner

For the sake of this article, let’s go ahead and assume this heavyweight battle is headlining the UFC’s 2/27 card. This is a massive fight for the heavyweight division. This is also a fight that’s going to tell us a lot about Ciryl Gane.

Gane is being looked at as the top prospect in the UFC’s heavyweight division. He just passed his first big test when he stopped Junior Dos Santos at UFC 255. However, JDS is not looked at as the same guy that he was when he was UFC champion.

Rozenstruik is a very dangerous contender and his only career loss is against the top contender in the world, Francis Ngannou. Whoever wins this fight will be in prime position in the UFC’s heavyweight division.

In my opinion, we could be seeing a little heavyweight tournament forming. The week prior to this headliner, the UFC has another headliner featuring Curtis Blaydes and Derrick Lewis. Perhaps the winners could fight considering Jon Jones is already guaranteed the next title shot.

State of the UFC’s light heavyweight division entering 2021

Corey Anderson

Last night, we got big announcement for the light heavyweight division. At UFC 259, Jan Blachowicz (27-8) will be defending his light heavyweight crown against the middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya (20-0).

It’s a massive fight with huge implications for the UFC‘s light heavyweight division. 2020 has been a very fascinating year at 205 pounds. When the year started, Jon Jones (26-1, 1 NC) was getting ready to defend his title against Dominick Reyes (12-2).

The fight took place at UFC 247. Reyes pushed Jones to the absolute limit and many believed that he won that fight. However, all three judges awarded Jones the decision and Jones walked away with his title.

Shortly after that, Jan Blachowicz knocked out Corey Anderson who was looked at as the next top contender. Jones was in attendance and the two men did a little talking through the cage. It appeared that would be the next title fight.

However, Jones decided to vacate his UFC light heavyweight title to pursue the heavyweight title. When Jones vacated, the promotion booked Blachowicz against Dominick Reyes for the vacant title at UFC 253.

Dominick Reyes was an uncrowned champion in the eyes of many in the MMA community after his fight with Jones. However, his uncrowned reign didn’t last long because Blachowicz knocked him out in the second round to capture the light heavyweight title.

UFC’s light heavyweight division in 2021

As mentioned, we already have the first title fight booked for UFC 259. Now, depending on who wins that fight, there are different fights that could be booked. If Blachowicz retains his title, Glover Teixeira (32-7) will be next.

The 41 year old Teixeira is riding a five-fight winning streak. He had an incredible 2020 where he finished former title challengers Anthony Smith (34-16) and Thiago Santos (21-8). However, he’s being passed over for Adesanya at this time.

The UFC has said that he’s the next contender, but the promotion is always about booking the biggest fights. While it’s not fair to Teixeira, his fight against Blachowicz is no where near as big as Adesanya moving up.

If Adesanya wins at UFC 259, I don’t see Teixeira getting the next shot. The reason is that I think the UFC will do everything they can to book the fight between Adesanya and Jon Jones should Adesanya capture the light heavyweight title.

Jones is intent on becoming heavyweight champion over the summer. Imagine a fall blockbuster that pairs the two-division champion, Adesanya, against the new heavyweight champion, Jon Jones.

That is the current status at the very top of the division. The contender I have my eyes on as we enter 2021 is Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1). Prochazka hasn’t lost in five years and he made his debut with the promotion at UFC 251.

He’s a very entertaining fighter and he put Volkan Oezdemir to sleep when they fought. He fights Dominick Reyes in February in a pivotal matchup for the division. 2021 is going to be interesting year for the light heavyweights.

I honestly don’t know what path the division is going to go down. The paths are vastly different depending on who wins at UFC 259 between Blachowicz and Adesanya.

UFC booking Dominick Reyes – Jiri Prochazka

Dominick Reyes

The UFC just ended their second stint on Fight Island over the weekend. However, Dana White said that the promotion would waste no time in getting back to work once they landed in the US. He wasn’t kidding about that one.

Dana White told ESPN’s Brett Okamoto that the UFC is currently working to finalize a light heavyweight contest between Dominick Reyes (12-2) and Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1). The fight would headline a UFC fight night that will take place on February 27th.

This is a massive fight for a light heavyweight division that just crowned a new king. After reigning over the division for most of the past decade, Jon Jones decided to vacate the title and move to heavyweight. That opened the door for UFC 253.

At UFC 253, Reyes took on Jan Blachowicz for the vacant light heavyweight title. The underdog, Blachowicz, would go on to stop Reyes in the second round to become the first male Polish champion in the history of the UFC.

UFC Light Heavyweight Main Event

For Reyes, he will get a golden chance to bounce back. Prior to the loss at UFC 253, Reyes had lost a decision to Jon Jones. However, there were a lot of people who thought Reyes won that fight. Some considered him the uncrowned champion leading into UFC 253.

Reyes had been unbeaten and defeated fighters like Jared Cannonier, Chris Weidman, Vokan Oezdemir, and Ovince St. Preux. The Devastator will look to get right back into the title picture with a victory on February 27th.

There was a ton of hype surrounding the UFC debut of Jiri Prochazka. Prochazka made his debut on the UFC’s first stint on Fight Island. The charismatic fighter from the Czech Republic showed off his entertaining style in his fight with Volkan Oezdemir.

His unorthodox style caused Oezdemir to never get comfortable. In the second round, Prochazka turned the lights out with a sensational knockout. Prochazka hasn’t lost since 2015, and a victory over Reyes would likely earn him a shot at the light heavyweight title.

State of the light heavyweight division after UFC 253

Corey Anderson

This past weekend at UFC 253, a new light heavyweight champion was crowned. This was the first light heavyweight champion not named Jon Jones or Daniel Cormier since 2011. The new UFC light heavyweight king has some serious Polish Power.

Jan Blachowicz (27-8) completely dominated Dominick Reyes (12-2) this past Saturday to claim the UFC light heavyweight title. Blachowicz has gone through a career resurgence since 2017 that has seen him go 8-1 on his way to capturing UFC gold.

It was clear from the very beginning of the fight that Blachowicz had an advantage. His power took Reyes by surprise, and as a result, Reyes seemed extremely gun shy. In the second round, Blachowicz landed a massive flurry that finished the fight.

Blachowicz became the first male UFC champion from Poland. He became just the second Polish champion in history alongside Joanna Jedrzejczyk. So after UFC 253, where do we go from here and what is the status of the light heavyweight division?

What’s next after UFC 253?

There are going to be two storylines to follow in the coming weeks when it comes to the light heavyweight division. The first and most obvious storyline is the UFC‘s pound for pound best fighter in the world, Jon Jones.

After years of reigning over the division, Jones vacated his UFC light heavyweight title. Jones seemed more interested in moving to heavyweight, although he did tease a potential return to the division on Saturday night after Blachowicz won the title.

At the moment, I think Jones is going to stay on course to fight at heavyweight, but who knows. Assuming Jones doesn’t return, all eyes will shift to the November contest between Glover Teixiera and Thiago Santos. The winner of that fight will be first in line to face the new UFC light heavyweight champion.

Another name to keep your eyes on is Anthony “Rumble Johnson. Johnson has re-entered the USADA testing pool and is planning on competing in the first half of 2021. Rumble is known as one of the most feared knockout artist in UFC light heavyweight history.

Dominick Reyes will need to regroup after his second straight UFC loss, but there are a few other top contenders in the division. Jiri Prochazka and Aleksandar Rakic are two names to keep your eyes on. Exciting times in a new and fluid UFC light heavyweight division.

Three fights to make after UFC Vegas 8

UFC, Dana White

Last night, UFC Vegas 8 saw some incredible fights. In the main event, Aleksandar Rakic (13-2) controlled Anthony Smith (33-16) over the course of three rounds. There were some storylines that came out of last night. Here are three fights the UFC should move to make following last night’s fight night.

Aleksandar Rakic vs Jiri Prochazka

Aleksandar Rakic had a dominant victory at UFC Vegas 8. After the fight was over, Rakic stated that he wanted the winner of the Dominick Reyes – Jan Blachowicz title fight next month at UFC 253.

I hate to burst Rakic’s bubble, but there’s no chance he gets a title shot after last night. While looking incredible with leg kicks early on, Rakic fought very conservatively which usually doesn’t sit well with Dana White. With that, there’s another contender who’s perfect for Rakic.

Jiri Prochazka (27-3-1) entered the UFC with a bang knocking out Volkan Oezdemir in the second round back in July. Prochazka hasn’t lost in almost five years. He’s extremely entertaining to watch, and he’s already a promotional favorite.

The Thiago Santos – Glover Teixiera fight in a couple of weeks is likely to determine the first challenger for Reyes or Blachowicz. A fight between Rakic and Prochazka could determine the next challenger. I think this would be a fantastic matchup for the UFC to put on towards the end of 2020.

Neil Magny vs Geoff Neal

The Haitian Sensation truly looked sensational last night in his victory over former UFC welterweight champion, Robbie Lawler. Neil Magny (24-7) controlled the fight for the entire 15 minutes doing a great job of imposing his will on the former champion.

Magny looked good in the grappling exchanges, and I was very impressed with his range striking in the third round. When Lawler was plotting forward looking to finish, Magny did a fantastic job of popping him clean with straight shots.

While Magny wants a top ten guy next, I think the fight to make is the fight with Geoff Neal (13-2). The fight with Neal was originally supposed to be last night, but due to some serious health issues, Neal had to pull out of the fight.

Neal is currently ranked 11th while Magny will likely be 12th when the new UFC rankings come out next week. It makes perfect sense for these two guys to fight. Whoever would walk away the winner would be ready for anyone inside the top ten.

Former UFC champs: Robbie Lawler vs Anthony Pettis

It’s really tough to place the former UFC welterweight champion in another fight. Robbie Lawler (28-15, 1 NC) looked great physically last night, but just didn’t look anything close to prime Robbie Lawler. The former champion dropped his fourth consecutive fight last night.

It’s clear to me that Lawler is starting to enter the twilight of his career. I don’t believe he’s done yet so the challenge becomes, who do you pair him against? I personally think the best fight would have been a rematch with Carlos Condit (30-13).

Condit has also lost five fights in a row, but a few years ago, the two men put on an incredible performance against each other. Both men left everything out there and it was a razor close decision for Lawler. At this stage in their careers, it would be a fun rematch.

However, Condit was booked to face Court McGee in October. So with Condit off the table, I look at Anthony Pettis (23-10). Pettis is a former world champion, and he hasn’t had a steady weight class home over the past couple years. He’s fought at lightweight, then featherweight, then lightweight, up to welterweight, then back to lightweight.

At this stage, I don’t think even Pettis sees another title run. It seems to be more about fighting big names which is why he wanted to fight Anderson Silva. A fight between Lawler and Pettis would be a low risk/high reward fight for the promotion.

Two former UFC champions going head-to-head. One would think it would purely be a striking match, but you truly never know. I would tune in if the UFC decided to put this one on.

UFC: Most intriguing and under the radar fights on Fight Island

UFC, Dana White

Next month, the UFC will be taking over Abu Dhabi for four events in just 14 days. The UFC kicks off Fight Island with the best card of the year at UFC 251. That card features three title fights including the headliner between Kamaru Usman (16-1) and Gilbert Burns (19-3) for the welterweight title. All of the cards are absolutely stacked on Fight Island. With that in mind, let’s look at an under the radar fight from each of the first four cards in Abu Dhabi.

UFC 251 – July 11th

The card on July 11th is absolutely sick. Three title fights and a rematch between the top two female strawweights in the world all on the main card. However, there is a light heavyweight matchup that I’m extremely interested in. That would be the matchup between former title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir (17-4), and the Rizin light heavyweight champion, Jiri Prochazka (26-3-1).

While a lot of people might not know him, Prochazka is one of the more exciting signings that the UFC has made in a while. He enters the UFC on a ten-fight winning streak including nine knockouts. He’s finished his last eight opponents including seven in the first round. Oezdemir has won back-to-back fights after losing three in a row. He’s looking to get back to a title shot, and a win might get him there. A win for either one of these men will vault them into the title discussion at 205. Jon Jones’ future in the division is in question. If he continues to fight, he’s likely going to be moving to heavyweight soon. The light heavyweight division could be on the verge of becoming wide open.

UFC on ESPN 13 – July 15th

Just a few days after UFC 251, we get a rare Wednesday night card that will be headlined between Calvin Kattar (21-4) and Dan Ige (14-2). There are a number of great fights including a strawweight matchup between Carla Esparza (16-6) and Marina Rodriguez (12-0-2). However, the one fight that somehow is flying under the radar is the co-main event between Frankie Edgar (23-8-1) and Pedro Munhoz (18-4).

“The Answer” is going to be making his bantamweight debut against one of the best guys in the world. The former lightweight champion is still trying to get back to UFC gold after losing his title years ago. Edgar dropped to featherweight, and had three title shots in his run there. He lost all three which has resulted in him dropping one more time to bantamweight. Edgar was very small at lightweight, small at featherweight, but will finally fit in at 135 pounds. Just like with everything in Edgar’s career, he’s jumping right in with the sharks in his debut.

Prior to his loss to Aljamain Sterling a year ago, Pedro Munhoz was on a roll. He had won three fights in a row including a knockout over former champion, Cody Garbrandt. Munhoz is no easy task for anyone in the division. I’m very curious to see this fight play out on July 15th. I’m putting it on the list today because I’m shocked at how little people are talking about this incredible fight. This fight was initially scheduled to be at UFC 251, but it was bumped a few days to beef up the Wednesday card.

UFC on ESPN 14 – July 18th

On July 18th the UFC will have another fight night that will be headlined by a flyweight title fight. Deiveson Figueiredo (18-1) and Joseph Benavidez (28-6) will have their rematch for the vacant title. They fought back in February, and Figueiredo won the fight by stoppage. However, since he missed weight in the fight, nobody won the title. The UFC decided to run the fight immediately back with the hope that he can make weight this time. Speaking of the flyweight division, there is a fight that most people probably don’t know about that’s really caught my eyes on this card.

I’m very interested in the flyweight contest between top Russian prospect, Askar Askarov (11-0-1) and Alexandre Pantoja (22-4). Russian MMA is on fire right now, and one of the brighter prospects is Askarov. He fought to a draw in his UFC debut against Brandon Moreno, but bounced back with a unanimous decision victory over former title challenger, Tim Elliot. Pantoja is no easy task for the Russian. Pantoja is 6-2 in his UFC career with wins over Brandon Moreno and Wilson Reis. This is a very interesting matchup in the flyweight division. With both guys ranked in the top seven, the winner of this fight could very well be next in line to fight the winner of the main event.

UFC on ESPN 15 – July 25th

The final card of the month is loaded. The main event of the evening is a title eliminator in the middleweight division between former champion, Robert Whittaker (20-5), and Darren Till (18-2-1). While the card is stacked, the one matchup that I’m very curious about is in the heavyweight division. Former heavyweight champion, Fabricio Werdum (23-9-1), will be taking on Alexander Gustafsson (18-6) in “The Mauler’s” heavyweight debut.

After some trouble with USADA, the former champion made his return back in May. Werdum really didn’t look that great in his return. Maybe you could attribute that to ring-rust after two years off. Werdum will also be getting ready to turn 43-years-old when he fights Gustafsson. Gustafsson surprised many when he retired last June after losing to Anthony Smith at UFC Fight Night 153. Gustafsson was just one fight removed from his loss to Jon Jones. Gustafsson is one of the best fighters to never taste UFC gold. He’s constantly been one of the best guys in the world, but he never has been able to climb the mountain all the way. I’m very curious to see how he looks at heavyweight. If this fight stays on the feet, the speed that Gustafsson has could really showcase well here, if it goes to the ground, I’m not sure how “The Mauler” will hold up.

A July to Remember

As a fight fan, you live for months like July. Four events in just two weeks time. The cards are all stacked from top to bottom. While other major sports in the world are still trying to figure it out, the UFC is churning out one of the more anticipated months in the sports history.

UFC: Jiri Prochazka set for debut; fights Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 251

UFC

UFC 251 just added a big-time light heavyweight matchup to it’s impressive and growing fight card. Former UFC light heavyweight title challenger, Volkan Oezdemir (17-4), will be welcoming a big-time fighter to the UFC that not a lot of people know about.

Prochazka’s Debut

Jiri Prochazka (26-3-1) was signed by the UFC back in January to a new exclusive deal. Prochazka comes into this first UFC fight riding a ten fight winning streak, where only one fight went the distance. He has only seen the second round in two of those ten fights. Prochazka is coming off wins over UFC vets, C.B. Dollaway and Fabio Maldonado. Prochazka was the Rizin light heavyweight champion prior to signing with the UFC. 23 of Prochazka’s 26 career wins have come via KO or TKO.

Volkan looks to keep it going

Oezdemir is coming off back to back wins which have helped his career get back on track. Oezdemir lost three consecutive fights starting with his world title loss to Daniel Cormier back at UFC 220. The light heavyweight division is in a state of limbo, but this is a really good fight for the division. If Oezdemir is able to win this fight, it would be his third in a row, and it would put him right back at the top of the division.

This is a great matchup to introduce a new fighter to the division. Prochazka is not getting a layup here in his first fight. We will know right away what kind of fighter this guy is. A win for either man will put them squarely in the conversation for a future title shot. If you’re not familiar with Prochazka, you can check out his highlights below.