Jiri Prochazka sets sights on another light heavyweight title shot after UFC 300

LAS VEGAS – After a big comeback performance at UFC 300 on Saturday, Jiri Prochazka knew exactly what he wants next – even though he didn’t know yet whom it would be against.

Prochazka (30-4-1 MMA, 4-1 UFC) took out Aleksandar Rakic (14-4 MMA, 6-3 UFC) with a second-round TKO to close out the preliminary card at T-Mobile Arena. The UFC 300 card was stacked enough that Prochazka, not yet two years removed from the time he held the light heavyweight title, was relegated to prelims. He was one of 12 current or former UFC champs on the card.

Prochazka submitted Glover Teixeira to win the light heavyweight title in June 2022. He later vacated the title when he suffered an injury that was going to keep him on the shelf long enough to hold up the division.

He returned this past November, though, and fought Alex Pereira for the then-vacant 205-pound belt in the UFC 295 main event and was knocked out in the second round. So when he called for a title shot after his win over Rakic, he didn’t even know yet it would get to be against Pereira (10-2 MMA, 7-1 UFC), who defended the title with a brilliant first-round knockout of ex-champ Jamahal Hill (12-2 MMA, 6-2 UFC) in the main event.

“Yes, (I want a title shot),” Prochazka said at his post-fight news conference. “It doesn’t matter for me. For me, right now, it’s most important to improve myself in training and to take this experience from tonight to the next fight as soon as possible. I’m still learning how to connect my violence and that hound instinct with the mastery, with the technique, with present moment to keep it in one. Especially after (the Rakic win), I believe I deserve it.”

Prochazka said a second meeting with Pereira would be different than the first and acknowledged he has critics of his style, which often can include his hands down and a quick wade into the waters of phone booth-type standup battles.

That strategy, he said, is as much of a mental thing on his part as it is to serve as a mental thing for his opponent. But against Pereira, it could backfire.

“That is something inside me that I have every time, that problem that I have – to show my opponent ‘you have nothing to me,'” Prochazka said. “But I’m trying to be more professional because with the guys like Pereira, it’s not good to catch any punches. That’s why I’m working on the head movement, like a flash, like a a shadow.

“… That’s the reason why the (first) fight with Pereira was stopped a little bit earlier, (because I don’t keep my hands up). But it doesn’t matter. We are here and now, and I’m looking what is before me.”

After his win over Hill, a stunning knockout just seconds after he was hit in the cup and waved off a chance to get a recovery timeout, Pereira hinted he has interest in a move up to heavyweight to challenge for a title there. He already was the UFC’s middleweight champion, but after he lost that belt in his first attempted defense, he went to 205 pounds and quickly won a title there, too.

A heavyweight title would make him the first three-division champion in UFC history, and if he’s serious about that move, it could send Prochazka’s hopes for a rematch into purgatory for a while.

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 300.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie