Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Procházka Names Opponent & Location Preference For First Defense

Newly-crowned UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Jiří Procházka has a few options for his first defense, but it seems that one opponent and location is sticking out.

This past weekend at UFC 275, the 15th 205-pound titleholder in UFC history was crowned, and the first to originate from the Czech Republic. In three Octagon outings, Procházka has ascended to the top on MMA’s biggest stage, but it certainly wasn’t an easy ride.

Entering the final minute of a memorable main event, Glover Teixeira was on his way to a successful victory and defense on the scorecards. But after reversing position on the ground, “Denisa” locked in a rear-naked choke, forcing the Brazilian to tap with just 28 seconds remaining.

Now, having delivered one of the greatest fights in UFC history and brought the gold back to his home country, Procházka is looking ahead to what’s next, and if his dreams come to fruition, it could include a home defense.

There are seemingly three options in the light heavyweight title picture: a rematch with Teixeira, the victor of UFC 277’s Anthony Smith vs. Magomed Ankalaev fight, and former champion Jan Blachowicz.

During an appearance on The MMA Hour, Procházka shared a similar sentiment to Blachowicz when revealing his preference, suggesting that a clash with the Polish star in their home continent would be the “biggest event” in European MMA history.

“First, I don’t know what’s the preference of the UFC, the organization. I want to communicate more with the UFC, what they want from me,” noted Procházka. “That I want to talk to them about. The second thing, I think the most dangerous man here in the light heavyweight division under me, there is Jan Blachowicz. He can be the next challenger (for) me.

“Man, that’s something that I’m thinking about. I think for Europe, that will be the biggest event ever, (in) the martial arts,” added Procházka. “Me and him, Poland and Czech Republic, they are next to (each other). I will be ready, and I will win. Doesn’t matter, whatever it takes.”

The MMA leader visited the Czech Republic for the first time in 2019. The card saw a collision between Jan Blachowicz and Thiago Santos in the main event, and took place at the O2 Arena in Prague, the Czech capital.

While that could be an option, Blachowicz has also suggested that the pair could sell out a stadium in Poland ahead of a potential championship showdown.

Procházka: I Have To Respect Teixeira

However, while it seems clear that the champion has his preference, he also acknowledged the place of now-former light heavyweight king Teixeira in the division.

The Brazilian certainly played his part in the certain Fight of the Year contender in Singapore on Saturday, and was just seconds away from retaining the belt on the scorecards. With that in mind, and having committed himself to pursuit of two-time champ status, Teixeira called for an immediate rematch, something that “Denisa” knows he has to “respect.”

“But still, I have to keep respect for Glover. So one thing is to offer Glover the rematch, and the second thing is to fight Jan Blachowicz,” said Procházka. “I have to make a decision in that. I have to talk with the UFC and my manager about what will be the best step.”

The debate has certainly drew opinions. While Smith has suggested that Blachowicz has no business in the title picture given the injury that led to his victory over Aleksandar Rakić, former UFC star Chael Sonnen believes that Teixeira has blown his chance of an immediate rematch through a “weak” post-fight strategy.

And with UFC President Dana White suggesting that the Smith vs. Ankalaev winner will likely be number one contender, perhaps the Brazilian and the Pole will be left out in the cold. Only time will tell.

Who would you like to see Jiří Procházka defend his title against first?

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