Jiri Prochazka’s third-round knockout of Muhammed Lawal to secure RIZIN Fighting Federation’s inaugural light heavyweight title is likely one of the greatest feats in Czech MMA history, but the 26-year-old “Denisa” insists that he’s just getting started.
On a recent episode of MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast, the striking supremo discussed the impact of his RIZIN 15 rematch with Lawal on his national scene before calling for a champion versus champion showdown with Bellator light-heavyweight kingpin, Ryan Bader.
“The people here see it is a big thing for Czech MMA. It could be one of the biggest moments for the national scene, but I think it’s just one step in my journey,” Prochazka told Eurobash.
“I’m already thinking about more titles and I don’t think I’ve shown what I’m fully capable of yet. I need more fights and when I get to the level that I want to be at, it’s going to be even better.”
Many forecast that Prochazka’s first title defense could be another rematch, this time against Swedish up-and-comer Karl Albrektsson, who he stopped in the first round of their 2017 meeting. Although Prochazka praised the Swede as a “good opponent,” he believes Albrektsson needs to get more wins under his belt before he can challenge for the title.
“I think [he could be next], but I think that Karl needs more fights to challenge for the title, to deserve it,” Prochazka said. “He just had a fight with RIZIN and that fight wasn’t so great, but he won. For me, he will be a good opponent. I know him, he knows me and our second fight will be different.”
What Prochazka really wants is to set up a cross-promotional championship showdown with Bellator’s double-champion, Bader. Given that RIZIN and Bellator have now booked two meetings between Darrion Caldwell and Kyoji Horiguchi, “Denisa” underlined that he wants an opportunity to fight some of the biggest names in the sport, and Bellator champion Bader is exactly the kind of opponent he would welcome.
“This is what I’m looking for. I like to have big challenges. I need to feel like my opponents want to take my life. When I fight for my life, I fight at my best and a fight for the Bellator title will be my biggest challenge. This fight would make me show my best skills. My last three fights in RIZIN before the title were not so good. The opponents were good but I didn’t feel like I was under too much pressure,” Prochazka said.
“I pray for that, I want to do that. I would give my life in that fight, I would do anything for it,” he added.
When considering how a meeting between him and Bader would ideally play out, Prochazka cast his mind back to the Bellator champion’s 2012 UFC clash with Lyoto Machida.
“In my head, I’m thinking about a fight he had in the UFC with Lyoto Machida,” he revealed.
“It’s one of my favorite fights ever because there is great technique on display and it also shows how a fighter can catch someone at the right moment. It wasn’t a very long fight, but this is how I’d want to fight Bader. One or two punches thrown with perfect precision, good movement, catching the right moment and it’s over. For me, that’s mastery and that’s what I want.”
(Editor’s note: Quotes in this article have been edited for clarity and concision.)
Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Jiri Prochazka interview begins at 29:15.