Mandatory Credit: Jeff Bottari – Zuffa LLC

Ever since his promotional bow last July on ‘Fight Island’, light heavyweight contender, Jiri Prochazka has most definitely captivated maybe no the masses, but certainly the eagle-eyed fans of the UFC. And with just two Octagon outings under his belt, the Czech Republic native has already entered title contention with ease, in some of the most vicious performances in recent memory.  

It’s been somewhat reckless and risk-taking at times for Prochazka, particularly on Saturday night, however, the spoils for those kinds of displays has him on the cusp of a title challenge at 205lbs in just two Octagon outings. 

The former Rizin FF light heavyweight best had caught my attention prior to his signing with the promotion in January of last year, particularly during his time under the Nobuyuki Sakakibara found banner in Japan. 

Whilst certainly met with two stern tests during his brief promotional run, he’s passed with flying colours in each, stopping both former title chasers, Volkan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes with second round strikes — the second of which, in spectacularly violent, vicious fashion

Back in September, former two-time title challenger, Reyes suffered a rather brutal second round knockout loss to Jan Blachowicz in a vacant championship tilt, breaking his nose on route to the loss.

Within the opening frame of Saturday night’s headliner, Prochazka had broken Reyes’ nose, resulting in a stream of blood from both nostrils even beyond the beginning of the second round.

For all his recklessness against Reyes on Saturday, he managed to survive some somewhat dicey moments against the fence, as well as a guillotine attempt after the Hesperia native pulled guard.

Eventually returning to his feet, Prochazka forced Reyes back to the Octagon fence yet again with his pressure and forward movement, before slicing with a step-in elbow. Upon the exit, the 28-year-old spun again, this time landing inch-perfect with a spinning back elbow, sending Reyes to the canvas out cold in brutal fashion. 

Prochazka is likely to await the victor of UFC 266’s light heavyweight title clash between Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira, however, if he wishes to remain active, he’s got a title-eliminator against Aleksandar Rakic that could also serve as his next Octagon outing. 

It’s three straight losses for California’s, Reyes now, and if ever a change of pace is needed, it’s right now. 

Jan Blachowicz – Glover Teixeira Winner vs. Jiri Prochazka

On September 4th. at UFC 266, defending light heavyweight champion, Jan Blachowicz meets with the number-one-rated 205lbs contender, Glover Teixeira with spoils on the line, and the victor of the matchup is likely to meet with Prochazka in a title defence if the Czech Republic contender wishes to compete for gold next.

Blachowicz is fresh from his first successful title defence at UFC 260 in March, where he handed middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya his first professional mixed martial arts loss. 

Sealing his second shot a light heavyweight gold, Minas Gerais veteran, Teixeira notched his fifth consecutive win at UFC Vegas 13 in November, where he scored a third round rear-naked choke victory over compatriot and former title challenger, Thiago Santos.

Make no mistake about it, if Prochazka wants to attempt his first promotional title challenge against the victor of Blachowicz and Teixeira next, he’s likely already booked that ticket via his stunning stoppage success over Reyes.

Jiri Prochazka vs. Aleksandar Rakic

One of the matchups I noted earlier this year that simply had to take place before the culmination of 2021, is a real possibility next, given how far out we are from September 4th.

If Prochazka elects to sit out and lay in wait for the victor of Blachowicz and Teixeira, he’s got the title shot still. However, if activity and sharpness is something the 28-year-old wants, pair him in a certain, clear-cut title-eliminator against Aleksandar Rakic. 

Austrian standout, Rakic turned in his second consecutive win at UFC 259 in February, and if his unanimous decision triumph over the above-mentioned, Santos wasn’t so uneventful, you could argue he would be next in line for a shot at either Blachowicz or Teixeira.

Let me make it clear, however, if Prochazka is willing to lay in wait then that’s completely fine, he’s lodged two outstanding finishes to accommodate that. But if he wants to remain active in between September, a Fight Night headliner opposite Rakic is the fight to book.

Dominick Reyes vs. Thiago Santos

I initially floated the idea of a matchup between former championship challengers, Reyes and Anthony Smith, however, after some deliberation and working out what a timeline would look like, I’ve landed on Santos as the next opponent for Reyes. 

Whilst Nebraska veteran, Smith would present a change in lane and pace for Reyes, given the fact he’s won two in a row, the last of which came just two weeks ago via a first round doctor’s stoppage win over Jimmy Crute, in which he emerged relatively unscathed, he’s likely on the lookout for a quickfire return. 

Since completely ripping both his knees apart in his close title challenge loss to Jon Jones back in July of 2019, Brazilian striker, Santos hasn’t looked the same since. He, akin to Reyes, is 0-3 in his last three Octagon outings. 

He needs to take some time to reevaluate an approach, because apart from his bright start against Teixeira back in November, he’s looked a shadow of the contender who stopped current champion, Jan Blachowicz at UFC Fight Night Prague back in February of 2019.

For Reyes, I’d be happy to see him similarly take an extended period of time away from the Octagon, and with the likelihood that he has suffered another broken nose for the second time running, that’s likely something out of his control. Once he’s recovered, pair him with Santos. 

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