Just three fights into his UFC career and Jiri Prochazka has already claimed the light heavyweight championship.
Of course winning the title didn’t come easy as Prochazka engaged in one of the best fights of the year as he went back and forth with Glover Teixeira round after round in an absolute war in the UFC 275 main event. The end came at 4:32 in the fifth and final round after Prochazka latched onto a rear-naked choke that forced Teixeira to tap out as the 29-year-old Czech native celebrated the biggest win of his career.
“I thought I would show a better performance, sorry for that,” Prochazka said afterwards. “Next time I will be better. Like I said before the fight, I’m ready to end it first or fifth round, it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter which technique.
“That choke came naturally. I just watched the moment, what opportunity is before me. It’s amazing. It was a true war. Glover is a true warrior and I like that.”
An incredibly active and offensive minded fighter, Prochazka was pawing away with fast hands in the early exchanges but Teixeira was just biding his time to find a way inside. Less than two minutes into the opening round, Teixeira swooped down to grab a leg and bring the fight into his world on the canvas.
Teixeira was aggressive with his grappling as he transitioned from the guard to side control and eventually ending up in north-south position but Prochazka stayed patient until he exploded back to his feet.
It was short lived success for Prochazka as Teixeira wasted no time snatching another takedown except this time he ended up in the mount. From there, Teixeira started hammering away at Prochazka with punches and elbows but somehow the RIZIN veteran not only survived but eventually escaped before he landed some heavy ground and pound of his own.
At the start of the second round, Prochazka looked much fresher as he began putting a lot of pressure on Teixeira on the feet with a dynamic striking attack. Again and again, Prochazka was popping Teixeira with a variety of punches and it appeared at times that he was only one shot away from finishing the fight.
Despite the onslaught coming at him, Teixeira would not go away and a slip from Prochazka gave the Brazilian a chance to turn the tables with another strong display on the ground. Teixeira moved back into the mount again where he unloaded some huge elbows with one of the shots slicing Prochazka open with a gash across his left eyebrow.
The cut didn’t deter Prochazka from coming right back after Teixeira while using his length to really pour on the punishment with a series of straight punches that continuously snapped the champion’s head back. Prochazka was chipping away with relentless aggression as the damage was starting to add up but Teixeira kept finding a way to fight back.
Prochazka’s inability to put Teixeira away continued to haunt him because the 42-year-old veteran just kept hunting for takedowns that would put him in dominant positions. Late in the fourth round, Teixeira moved from the mount into a submission attempt as he looked to secure an arm triangle choke but inexplicably, Prochazka found a way out yet again.
With five minutes remaining, Teixeira clobbered Prochazka with a massive right hook that nearly earned him the knockout. Rather than follow up with strikes, Teixeira looked for a guillotine choke and that was enough to allow Prochazka the time to recover and avoid the finish.
It turns out that mistake would ultimately cost Teixeira his title.
Another wild exchange on the ground saw Prochazka land a couple more shots but during an ensuing exchange, he saw an opening to apply the rear naked choke on Teixeira.
Prochazka locked his arms around the neck and despite not having his legs wrapped on the body, Teixeira was already grimacing just before tapping out from the submission. It was an awe-inspiring performance from Prochazka, who continuously fought out of bad positions and eventually found a way to put Teixeira away with less than one minute remaining in the bout.
While it certainly wasn’t the result he wanted, Teixeira promised this isn’t the last time he’ll compete inside the octagon.
“I give my all,” Teixeira said. “I say all the time live by the sword, die by the sword. I’m going to keep going.”