Jiri Prochazka became just the third fighter in UFC history to finish an opponent with a spinning back elbow. But it turns out that wasn’t actually a move he even practiced prior to Saturday night.
The light heavyweight from the Czech Republic capped off UFC Vegas 25 with a spectacular finish that left former two-time title contender Dominick Reyes face first on the canvas with one of the most violent knockouts in recent history.
Replays showed how Prochazka threw a clubbing elbow strike that glanced by Reyes’ head but then he followed that with the spinning back elbow that demolished the 31-year-old California native in the second round.
While it was certainly a jaw-dropping finish, Prochazka revealed after the fight that he had no plans to throw that spinning back elbow, much less was he spending hours in the gym drilling that specific combination. Instead, he just saw the opening and unleashed the strike that put him in the running for the best knockout in 2021.
“That was just the flow,” Prochazka said about his knockout when speaking at the UFC Vegas 25 post-fight press conference. “That was just the flow and it just comes. That’s why I have this antenna to catch the ideas.”
The antenna was his hair that was tied up into a knot and pointed directly at the sky as he walked into the octagon for the fight with Reyes.
Surprisingly, Prochazka doesn’t actually count the spinning back elbow as best finish of his entire career, but not because this particular knockout won’t end up on his all-time highlight reel. Instead, he points to the back-and-forth battle he shared with Reyes prior to the end of the fight, which means he wasn’t flawless in victory.
“No, [it was not my best finish],” Prochazka said. “There was a much better ending in my career in the fights because I [didn’t have] this fight under control all the time. Because Dominick surprised me many times. That’s for a man like me, that’s not good. I like to be the best in these things. To be the best and when you mean something or somebody is the best, that was not the best really.
“There was so many chances to end the fight earlier than it was. I don’t want to be in the cage so long. Why? Why to be so long and do this war? Because that’s not mastery. That’s not mastery. I’m looking for the mastery and that wasn’t.”
Prochazka fully intends on practicing his craft after this fight as he seeks to get better when he returns to action, which he hopes will be with the UFC title on the line.
Prior to Saturday night, UFC President Dana White hinted that either Prochazka or Reyes would earn the shot at the winner of the upcoming bout between reigning light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira in September.
Now that Prochazka has picked up a second consecutive win in the UFC by knockout while taking out another former title contender, he believes that should be enough to secure his spot as the No. 1 contender at 205 pounds.
“Yes, I think I deserve that fight,” Prochazka said about competing for the title next. “But because my journey in the UFC is so quick and I’m not enjoying that so much like I want. I think yeah, I deserve that title fight.”
Because Blachowicz and Teixeira aren’t scheduled to fight until September, Prochazka would be sitting on the shelf for an extended period of time if he intends on waiting for a shot at the champion. That actually sounds like a good idea to him as seeks to fix the mistakes he made in the fight against Reyes. He wants to ensure he’s ready to not only compete for the title, but to achieve his ultimate goal of becoming UFC champion.
“Yes, I need time now a little bit to rest and enjoy to be the UFC fighter, to be in this highest league and to use this skill from this fight with Dominick to my training,” Prochazka explained. “To upgrade these mistakes and that takes time. That will take time.”