Jiri Prochazka explains desire for ‘very good’ Alex Pereira title fight after UFC 291

UFC 291 appears to have left Jiri Prochazka with a pretty clear idea of his next fight. Now the only question is: When?

By: Zane Simon | 2 months ago

It was a bit of a surprise, ultimately, when the UFC didn’t hang a new light heavyweight title on the winner of Jan Blachowicz vs. Alex Pereira at UFC 291. The event was a banger from start to finish, but with Jamahal Hill only recently having been stripped of the belt (the second champion in two years to lost the title outside the cage), and the PPV without any real, meaningful title on offer, it seemed as though the timing was prime for a title fight. Hell, the UFC even briefly advertised it as such.

Nonetheless, Alex Pereira walked away from Salt Lake City with a less than definitive victory on his hands and without another piece of UFC gold around his waist. He also walked square into the sights of former champ Jiri Prochazka, who has big plans for the Brazilian.

Jiri Prochazka with his UFC light heavyweight title.
Jiri Prochazka with his UFC light heavyweight title. IMAGO/CTK Photo

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Jiri Prochazka expects Pereira title fight for UFC return

As aforementioned, Hill’s ‘decision’ to vacate the light heavyweight title was the second time in recent history that a champ has dropped the belt. The first came back in November of last year, when Jiri Prochazka suffered a catastrophic shoulder injury in training. After which, Prochazka graciously decided to step aside and let someone else have a crack at gold.

“I don’t wanna talk about it a lot. But after talk with the directors of UFC, I have to let… The show must go on,” Prochazka explained back in December. “Show must go on and I respect it. What to say about it? I want to stay a champion, doesn’t matter if I’m injured, doesn’t matter what. But it is the best for the light heavyweight division right now. For me it doesn’t matter. My way is to be the best fighter in the world, not just the light heavyweight division. That’s why I can vacate the title and wait for my moment till I’ll be in full power.”

In response, the UFC booked a bout for the vacant belt between Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev, which ended in a disastrous draw that left everyone eager to move on. Jamahal Hill beat Glover Texieira back in January to secure the belt, before rupturing his Achilles tendon playing pickup basketball at a UFC-sponsored International Fight Week event, and now here we are. Exiting UFC 291 with what appears to be a new title fight staring us square in the face.

“Yeah, sure,” Prochazka said when asked if he expects to face Alex Pereira for the light heavyweight title “in his heart.” “Not sure—it’s not confirmed yet from UFC—but my next fight will be the title, so I think Alex [Pereira] is a very good chance to show the world a good title fight. I’d like to see him [as an] opponent in my next fight.”

Prochazka had wanted September return

Back in April, when Jamahal Hill was still champion and hoping to defend his title at UFC 292 in August, Prochazka gave an update as to the state of his health. Unfortunately at the time, Prochazka felt that Hill’s timeline was a little premature for his rehab schedule, but he hoped to be back to fighting form by “the end of this summer.”

“September, something like that,” Prochazka told Low Kick MMA (transcript via Middle Easy). “Now, it’s April. I think I need [to] finish rehab and making a great preparation, four more months I think. I want practice, practice, and practice. I will see after one month.”

Unfortunately for ‘the ‘Denisa’, if his goal was a return in late summer or early fall, that opportunity is probably off the table at this point. The UFC’s PPV schedule is looking booked out until the end of the year. Although… there just might be an opening in December if Pereira’s ready and if the UFC can’t wrangle Conor McGregor back into the Octagon for that fight with Michael Chandler he’s sounding less interested in than ever.

Either way, it’s starting to sound a lot like fans can expect to see a light heavyweight title fight between Prochazka and Pereira sometime toward the end of the year, or possibly in early 2024.

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About the author
Zane Simon
Zane Simon

Zane Simon is a senior editor, writer, and podcaster for Bloody Elbow. He has worked with the website since 2013, taking on a wide variety of roles. A lifelong combat sports fan, Zane has trained off & on in both boxing and Muay Thai. He currently hosts the long-running MMA Vivisection podcast, which he took over from Nate Wilcox & Dallas Winston in 2015, as well as the 6th Round podcast, started in 2014. Zane is also responsible for developing and maintaining the ‘List of current UFC fighters’ on Bloody Elbow, a resource he originally developed for Wikipedia in 2010.

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