Jiri Prochazka on First Bout Against Alex Pereira: ‘I Wasn’t 100 Percent–Now I Am’

Prochazka challenges light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira this Saturday at UFC 303

Jiri Prochazka felt an odd sensation last night November.


For the first time since December of 2015, Prochazka lost a fight. He was beat by Alex Pereira, a late-comer to MMA after a highly decorated kickboxing career. Pereira ended the bout with just under a minute remaining in the second round, getting the KO/TKO finish after a left hook led to a flurry of hammerfists and elbows that caused referee Marc Goddard to call an end to it.

Up until that point, Prochazka hadn’t lost in the UFC. But the former light heavyweight champ, who had to relinquish the bet due to injury, was humbled by Pereira (10-2) in a fight where he paid the price for not being fully prepared.

“I wasn’t 100 percent,” said Prochazka, who was unwilling to share any more details. “Now I am. I’m ready to take the title.”

Jiri Prochazka looks to regain the UFC light heavyweight title this Saturday at UFC 303
Jiri Prochazka looks to regain the UFC light heavyweight title this Saturday at UFC 303 / Zuffa

Conor McGregor and Michael Chandler were scheduled to headline UFC 303, but that bout is off. Replacing it is a rematch for the light heavyweight championship, with Pereira.

Prochazka defeated Aleksander Rakic in April at UFC 300, the same card headlined by Pereira–who decimated Jamahal Hill in the main event. Unbeknownst to them, here they are, only two months later, stepping into the main event–strikingly similar to what happened in November at UFC 295 when they took the main event slot after the Jon Jones-Stipe Miocic bout was called off.

“It may feel like this happened before, but this isn’t a repeat,” said Prochazka. “It’s a new chance. It’s new life. I have this opportunity, and I’m going to take advantage of it.”

Prochazka (30-4-1) enters Saturday’s title fight with a point to prove. Perhaps he will have an advantage in the rematch. The one and only time Pereira fought a rematch in the UFC, he was knocked out by Israel Adesanya.

“This is all about showing why I am the best,” said Prochazka. “That’s what this Saturday means to me. I won my last fight, and now it’s time to go win the title.

“I like challenges. This is a real challenge. I don’t want to say I have the right recipe to beat Alex, but I know the way. Step by step, I will achieve that on Saturday.”

Justin Barrasso


Justin Barrasso has been writing for Sports Illustrated since 2014. While his primary focus is pro wrestling and MMA, he has also covered MLB, NBA, and the NFL. He can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.