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Injured Jiri Prochazka wanted to stay champion, details ‘very hard’ decision to vacate UFC title

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka vacated the division title after injuring his shoulder so badly it required reconstructive surgery and a lengthy absence from combat sports, but if the decision was up to “Denisa,” the belt would still be around his 205-pound waist.

Unfortunately for Prochazka, promotion officials had other plans — plans they may have regretted after watching top contenders Jan Blachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev blow their spot in the UFC 282 headliner earlier this month in Las Vegas.

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UFC’s 2023 PPV DEBUT! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) kicks off its New Year pay-per-view (PPV) campaign on Sat., Jan. 21, 2023, with a battle for the vacant Light Heavyweight crown between former champion and No. 2-ranked contender, Glover Teixeira, looking to stop the momentum of surging No. 7-seeded up-and-comer, Jamahal Hill. In the co-main event of UFC 283, which will take place inside Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, one of the greatest rivalries in promotional history resumes as Flyweight kingpin, Deiveson Figueiredo, battles interim belt keeper, Brandon Moreno, for a fourth (and likely final) time.

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“That was a very hard thing for me, I don’t want to talk about it a lot, but after talking with the UFC, with the directors of UFC, I have to let ... the show must go on,” Prochazka told The MMA Hour. “I respect it. What to say about it? For me, I wanna stay a champion, doesn’t matter if I’m injured or doesn’t matter what. But if it’s the best for the light heavyweight division right now to make it better, for me it doesn’t matter. My way is to be the best fighter in the world, not just at light heavyweight, so that’s why I can vacate the title and wait for my moment to be in full power, then I will take it back, everything.”

With Blachowicz and Ankalaev fighting to a split draw, the promotion will once again try to anoint a new light heavyweight champion when former titleholder Glover Teixeira collides with 205-pound knockout artist Jamahal Hill in the UFC 283 pay-per-view (PPV) main event next month in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

The 29-3-1 Prochazka, 30, is hoping to make his Octagon comeback at some point in the latter half of 2023 and the promotion is unlikely to book a title defense for the winner of Teixeira vs. Hill if “Denisa” can lock down a hard date for his light heavyweight return. Expect this fluid situation to continue to play out over the next couple of months.

Remember that will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 283 fight card right here, starting with the early ESPN+ “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard on ABC/ESPN+ at 8 p.m. ET, before the PPV main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC 283: “Teixeira vs. Hill” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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