UFC President Dana White claims former light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka suffered “the worst shoulder injury we’ve ever seen,” which is why “Denisa” was stripped of the 205-pound title and sent to the sidelines to recover.
Prochazka, however, has been planning to make his Octagon return at some point this summer, which would put him in line for a Jamahal Hill title fight after “Sweet Dreams” retired ex-champion Glover Teixeira at UFC 283 in Rio.
No. 6-ranked Anthony Smith has a different take.
“Glover is out because he retired; (Aleksandar) Rakic is still hurt, I don’t know what’s going on with Jan (Blachowicz) and (Magomed) Ankalaev,” Smith said on the “Believe You Me” podcast with co-host Michael Bisping (transcribed by MMA Junkie). “If I had to guess, I’m going to be very honest, I think it’s going to end up being me.”
“Jiri said he still needed some time, he wanted his body to get right, then Jamahal had a response saying he wants to wait for Jiri, but he needs an answer by April,” Smith continued. “So I think I’ll fight before then, and I don’t know if Jiri is going to be ready. I think he’s rushing it. I think he’s optimistic, and for his sake I hope he is able to fight, because I think he deserves it. He never lost the title. But if it’s not Jiri, I think that I’m the next one to fight. I think I would be next in line.”
This top contender may have something to say about that.
Smith (36-17) was in Rio as a potential backup for the Hill-Teixeira title fight but failed to make weight. Fortunately, the promotion didn’t end up needing “Lionheart” but it could be a factor when considering who’s next in line for a “Sweet Dreams” title shot.
Magomed Ankalaev (No. 2) and Jan Blachowicz (No. 3) are both ranked above Smith in the official UFC rankings and Ankalaev defeated “Lionheart” by way of technical knockout just last summer, so Smith could end up testing himself against “Polish Power.”