Thursday, January 27, 2022

2022 Could Be Jiří Procházka’s Year—Or Not

We could see Jiří Procházka get crowned a new champion over the next year, although some questions give us hesitancy in that stance.

It didn’t take long for Jiří Procházka to fly up the UFC light heavyweight division and become a title contender. And while we don’t know if he is next for a title shot at the moment, all signs indicate that he is on a fast track to getting a championship fight if he keeps producing the results he has made thus far.

Procházka is still somewhat of a new name for UFC viewers. He has only fought twice since joining the promotion in 2020, including one main event bout. That’s certainly not to say he doesn’t have experience.

Viewers of the RIZIN product from Japan have a better understanding of him. Before his UFC run, many witnessed him score wins over notable names Karl Albrektsson and Vadim Nemkov. Only 29 years old, the Czech Republic fighter has competed as a pro for nearly a decade and has over 25 wins.

Procházka’s career started incredibly busy, fighting more than three times a year from 2012 to 2015. He continued to stay active in the following years, fighting two to three times a year in RIZIN from 2016 to 2019.

However, his activity as a pro has slowed down since joining the UFC roster, only fighting once a year since 2020. So when looking at the contender, it might be best to judge him off his two most recent fights instead of observing older tape. When looking at his two fights in the UFC, there is a lot to address. Here’s what we know about Procházka, what we’re concerned about, and what we have yet to learn.

Looking At Procházka’s Two UFC Fights

Jiri Prochazka
Jiri Prochazka (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa)

Procházka’s first two fights in the UFC showed his undeniable punching power. He displayed his ability to put away opponents with a wild striking style. However, he wasn’t a flawless fighter. In his UFC debut in 2020, Procházka scored a second-round stoppage win against a big name in Volkan Oezdemir. However, he got hit quite a bit along the way. He was visibly stunned by shots at times by Oezdemir but was able to work past those issues for a finish win.

The issue of getting hit continued to show in his main event fight against Dominick Reyes in May. He was notably wobbled halfway through the second round by a left cross, forcing him to shoot for a takedown and fight a guillotine choke submission on the ground. Reyes was able to touch him, but to Procházka’s credit, he powered through and eventually overwhelmed the two-time title challenger.

That fight also showed a side to his game that hasn’t been tested extensively in the UFC cage yet: his ground game. Although the fight was mostly on the feet, Procházka was taken down by Reyes in the first round quite easily. As was mentioned before, he also found himself fighting a choke after taking a desperation shot in the second frame.

This could be a glaring issue if he were to face current UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Glover Teixeira, who has a clear talent for getting fighters to the ground and submitting them with ease. With that being said, his ability to defend wrestling and grappling hasn’t been tested more thoroughly by someone yet.

What’s Next For Procházka?

Jiri Prochazka
(via Zuffa LLC)

There’s good reason to believe Procházka could claim the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. He’s explosive with his punches and hard to read as a fighter. But should you go all-in on the Procházka hype train? That’s a hard call to make.

Like anyone ranked second in their division should, Procházka certainly believes he has a good case for getting a title fight next. But as it stands currently, we cannot confirm if that is actually what’s next for him, although all signs are currently trending in that direction. Therefore, it certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if he’s next in line. Neither would it be a shock if he’s next to have that belt around his waist.

Do you think Jiri Prochazka will become UFC Light Heavyweight Champion in 2022?

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