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Fighter on Fighter: Breaking down UFC 275’s Jiri Prochazka

Former Rizin kingpin, Jiri Prochazka, will attempt to claim UFC gold from veteran finisher, Glover Teixeira, this Saturday (June 11, 2022) at UFC 275 inside Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore.

Prochazka made the transition into the UFC cage at the perfect time. A debut knockout win over Volkan Oezdemir rocketed him into the title mix, and it only took one more brutal stoppage (watch it) over Dominick Reyes to fully secure his opportunity for the belt. Prochazka has instantly made himself known to UFC’s fanbase as one of the most violent men on the planet, and he’s the favorite on Saturday night (see full UFC 275 odds here).

All that said, Prochazka is absolutely a fighter who takes major risks, one rather likely to fall into Teixeira’s trap on the canvas. Let’s take a closer look at the challenger’s skill set:

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BLOCKBUSTER CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLEHEADER! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) International Fight Week returns to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., July 2, 2022, capped by a stacked card headlined by a blockbuster championship double header. In UFC 276’s pay-per-view (PPV) main event, reigning Middleweight champion, Israel Adesanya, defends his crown against No. 2-ranked contender, Jared Cannonier. In the co-main event, Featherweight champion, Alexander Volkanovski, has his sights set on successfully defending his title once again against No. 1-seeded contender, Max Holloway, for the third (and likely final) time.

Don’t miss a single second of EPIC face-punching action!

Striking

Prochazka is an amateur champion in Muay Thai, which has almost nothing to do with his current striking style. Prochazka’s style and stance are quite unique, but in my experience, this is how I’d describe it: Prochazka dances and moves as though he’s toying around with a newcomer and playing tag with his punches.

Instead, he’s fighting elite strikers and delivering kill shots. Prochazka’s ability to remain loose while in the midst of the fire is incredible, and it really stresses out his opponents. Usually, a fighter will stop playing cute after getting cracked a couple times, but Prochazka fights with the confidence of a man who cannot be knocked out ... despite having a knockout loss on his record.

Before anything else, Prochazka’s stance has to be addressed, because it’s odd. He leaves his lead leg extremely vulnerable to outside low kicks — even C.B. Dollaway was blasting the leg at will. Prochazka’s hands stay low for the most part, but he’ll also hold his lead arm high in front of his opponent’s face, measuring his foe as if he were about to break a board in karate.

UFC Fight Night: Reyes v Prochazka Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC

The bright side of Prochazka’s side-on stance is speed. With his foot turned inward, Prochazka is able to rebound quickly from a forward bounce, which really helps open up pull counters. Plus, with his lead hand low, Prochazka’s already fast jab can become nearly invisible.

Against Dominick Reyes — an incredible performance to be touched on several times — Prochazka was well-prepared for his opponent’s left kick. He wasn’t terribly concerned about avoiding that formidable weapon, however. Instead, his sole focus was interrupting with counters. Several of his biggest lands occurred while Reyes was mid-kick, standing on one leg and ill-prepared to absorb a blistering up jab or right hand.

Following Prochazka’s jab is very often a flurry of punches. If nothing else, the man always works in combination. He’ll follow up with his cross then let it carry him into Southpaw, where Prochazka will look to work around the guard with lead hooks and uppercuts. In addition, Prochazka will alternate between the jab and a wide slapping hook, designed to raise the guard and open up different targets.

In general, the uppercut is a major weapon of Prochazka. He’s always looking to convince his opponents to duck beneath his cross, and in general, Prochazka is more willing to stand in the pocket than most of his peers. That may mean he’s sacrificing a bit of his 80-inch reach, but it also means that Prochazka’s uppercut lands where many would fall short. In the clip below, Prochazka cracks Dollaway with an uppercut before catching him trying to pivot out of the corner with a fight-ending left hook.

Another layer of offense is Prochazka’s flying knee. Since he stands somewhat hunched over already, he’s always in position to explode, and his angled power punches likely have his foe covering up anyway. Prochazka likes to flash a jab then jump forward, and the results have been impressive: he’s got at least four stoppages that include a flying knee at the start.

Against Reyes, Prochazka spent a ton of time feinting low and then firing up high. Generally, such level change feints are most formidable when coming from a wrestler, but Prochazka’s unpredictability made it work all the same. Dropping his level low, Prochazka would bounce forward out of that squat with an up jab, shifting right uppercut, jump knee or stabbing front kick.

Oddly enough, Prochazka kicks infrequently for a man with a Muay Thai background. He’s most active with his front kick, which he often throws from his back leg within the punching range. The opportunity for his opponent to counter is there from that distance, sure, but he’s also pretty much guaranteeing a good connection between foot and gut. It’s a scary thing to have a man standing directly in front of you throw his foot at your face, and Prochazka understands this well. After a couple front kicks has landed, he’ll begin showing the strike before coming forward with punches.

Against Volkan Oezdemir, Prochazka spent most of the first round getting out-boxed. He was landing some good jabs, but he stayed in Oezdemir’s face to such an extent that the Swiss athlete’s own lead hand seldom missed. “No Time” hits hard and builds smart combinations, not to mention the leg kicks — he was a seriously dangerous opponent given Prochazka’s high-risk style of striking.

Between rounds, someone in the Prochazka corner must have told him to throw kicks, and it immediately made all the difference. A single low kick set up a high kick moments later that wobbled Oezdemir, and Prochazka went on the offensive. He was stinging Oezdemir from all angles, and when the former title challenger backed into the fence, Prochazka scored a pretty perfect overhand straight to the jaw (GIF).

The final aspect of Prochazka’s striking is his counter punching. Prochazka does a nice job of pulling back at an angle, putting him in good position to fire if his foe comes up short. Often, he does so with a quick interrupting jab, looking to prevent longer combinations from his foe. Alternatively, Prochazka will stand in place, ducking his head off to the side as he attempts to time his foe with a right hand.

Lastly, let’s talk about his overall performance vs. Reyes. Some of the specific strategies — i.e. countering kicks, feinting low then striking, general pressure and stance-shifting — have been mentioned, but I want to focus on the big picture flow of the fight.

Prochazka, on the strength of his power, fearlessness, and flow, made a hardened veteran fight like a desperate, caged animal. That’s not to say Reyes fought poorly either; he actually did so much well! Reyes landed hard kicks, dozens of stinging counter punches, and kept his feet moving even in bad situations.

The problem was that none of Reyes’ success bought him any time to breathe. Physically, Reyes was keeping up with his opponent, and the fight was close from a punch count perspective as well, but Prochazka’s strategy was clearly wearing on Reyes’ mentally. Each time Prochazka absorbed a nasty counter shot and continued to juke, jive, and attack, Reyes’ confidence was undermined.

The result? Reyes started looking more and more tense, whereas Prochazka just kept flowing into offense. By the end of the second, Prochazka was far enough ahead in their dance to line up a fight-ending blow (GIF).

Wrestling

I don’t know how Prochazka’s wrestling will stand up against top-flight UFC grinders, but it is very clear that he’s come a long way. Comparing his 2015 battle with future Bellator champ Vadim Nemkov to his 2019 rematch with “King Mo” is night and day. In the first bout, Prochazka was taken down largely at will, offering little defense until he began scrambling on the mat.

A few years later, and Prochazka’s defensive reactions looked solid, He was sprawling very quickly and looking to punish shots with clinch knees. When Lawal attacked the single leg, the Czech fighter quickly pulled away and returned to a striking battle. Now, Lawal was not a fresh young wrestler in 2019, so he’s not exactly an analogue to someone like Magomed Ankalaev.

Rizin - Iza Saltation Photo by Etsuo Hara/Getty Images

Still, there was clear improvement, and that’s always a positive sign.

Prochazka did wrestle a bit with Reyes. His takedown defense in the first was a bit concerning, as Reyes was able to trip up Prochazka from the clinch, and “BJP” only escaped via raw athleticism on the canvas. In the second, however, Prochazka did a bit of chain wrestling drag Reyes to the floor — not an easy task!

Teixeira will be a very real test to this part of Prochazka’s game.

Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu

Just two of Prochazka’s victories come via submission, and he generally spends little time on the canvas. He did show some good posture and control while in half-guard on top of Reyes, but it’s hard to draw many grappling conclusions from that mad brawl. Otherwise, Prochazka once showed off a slick armbar attempt vs. Nemkov, but it’s clear that jiu-jitsu is not his focus inside the cage.

Conclusion

Prochazka enters his first UFC title shot on a huge wave of momentum, confident that the belt is his destiny. Whether or not that forward momentum carries him to a violent win or directly into Teixeira’s submission game remains to be seen, but it’s going to be a whole lot of fun either way.


Andrew Richardson, a Brazilian jiu-jitsu brown belt, is a professional fighter who trains at Team Alpha Male in Sacramento, California. In addition to learning alongside world-class talent, Andrew has scouted opponents and developed winning strategies for several of the sport’s most elite fighters.


Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 275 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 balance on ESPN2/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 275: “Teixeira vs. Prochazka” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.

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