There is a new boogeyman in the UFC light heavyweight division and his name is Jiri Prochazka.
‘Denisa’ made it 12 wins in a row with 11 knockouts and two out of two in the UFC as he obliterated Dominick Reyes in the UFC Vegas 25 main event to send a message to his eastern European counterpart, champion Jan Blachowicz.
Prochazka channelled his “inner samurai” as he marched forward through Reyes’ best shots and performed brilliantly before a stunning spinning back elbow landed to put his lights out in the second round.
It was a huge performance from the former RIZIN light heavyweight champion, who made it 25 knockout wins from 28 career victories and made it three knockout losses in a row for Reyes who had challenged for the title in each of his last two fights.
Reyes started well, landing his left hand early, but Prochazka knew from that moment on that the power wasn’t enough to stop him. He just walked Reyes down from that point on, with his hands down and creating unorthodox angles for his attacks.
He busted Reyes’ nose once again and just poured on the pressure against him, forcing him backwards constantly and continuously hurting him with his heavy hands and kicks to the body.
He showed a granite chin, taking Reyes’ strikes that have knocked out many fighters in the past and just continuing to walk forward with reckless abandon.
After the fight he was touted as a potential contender for the champion Blachowicz, who will defend his title against Glover Teixeira at UFC 266 in September.
Prior to the bout, UFC president Dana White had suggested that the winner of this fight could get the next shot. After Prochazka got the win, the champion tweeted out a challenge for his title almost making it a guarantee.
But with that fight not due to happen until September, Aleksandar Rakic is likely to have something to say about that. A potential scenario that could come around is that Prochazka and Rakic face off in an eliminator bout, with the winner facing the winner of Blachowicz and Texieira at a later date.
Either way, Prochazka’s terminator-like style has put the entire division on notice and he is truly the boogeyman at 205lbs now.
In the co-main event Giga Chikadze announced himself too, with a stunning first-round KO win over the veterean Cub Swanson with a body kick.
Chikadze is now 6-0 in the UFC with two first round knockouts in his last two bouts and with a move up the rankings now expected, he moved to call out the top guys at the head of the table. The Georgian made calls to fight any of Max Holloway, Calvin Kattar or Yair Rodriguez next after a big win, but it seems unlikely that any of those will take place.
Chikadze could move in to the top ten and those three opponents are all in the top five of the division’s rankings and he’s likely to need another win before breaking into that echelon. With Shane Burgos and Edson Barboza fighting each other at UFC 262 in a couple of weeks, that could be the fight to make to see who can break into the top five.