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Jiri Prochazka shocked by massive reception in return to Czech Republic: ‘It was emotional’

Jiri Prochazka had no idea of what kind of reception awaited him back home in the Czech Republic after his thrilling title-winning submission of Glover Teixeira at UFC 275.

But a raucous scene with thousands upon thousands of his countrymen and countrywomen crowding into the city square to celebrate the first Czech champion in UFC history?

“I didn’t expect that,” Prochazka admitted on The MMA Hour.

“In the Czech Republic, it was a big thing. It was a big thing because it’s the highest peak for the MMA fighters for them — and I won that. And I know it was like [a] 50-50 [fight], but I won that fight, and I think the people here, I think they can be proud for that. That the small Czech Republic has now the champion of the biggest [MMA promotion in the world].”

Prochazka, 29, had a sense before UFC 275 that a win could turn into a big deal for his native country, if only because the attention he was receiving from Czech outlets ahead of the Teixeira bout dwarfed the attention he received for his other major fights in the past.

But even Prochazka couldn’t have anticipated just how seminal the moment would become after his success in a five-round war many have hailed as the new front-runner for “Fight of the Year” — and one of the greatest UFC light heavyweight fights of all-time.

“I just wanted to share that energy, the victory energy with them,” Prochazka said of the crowd. “Because the people from from Czech Republic who are watching MMA and they understand MMA, they are really energetic people, and they were so, so, so loud.

“It was amazing. It was emotional, and I’m glad to represent Czech Republic in the UFC.”

The moment was well-earned not only for the historic nature of Prochazka’s victory, but also because the new UFC light heavyweight champion had to wade through hell and back to claim his title. Prochazka and Teixeira each nearly finished the other several times in the bout, and Prochazka was actually down on two of the three judges’ scorecards heading into the final round before pulling off a miracle comeback with 28 seconds left on the clock.

“He was tough. He was a tough fighter,” Prochazka said of Teixeira.

“Like his mindset and his [perseverance] in the fight were amazing. I think [he’s] one of the toughest fighters that I’ve ever met. I’ve met a lot of guys who were so strong. Glover wasn’t so strong. He wasn’t so speedy, like quick. He wasn’t so fast. But his mindset to [keep] going, to [keep] going, still going, through all these obstacles and all of these things, still keep going — that was, from him, very smart and that was what makes him dangerous.”

Prochazka said he hopes to compete again soon and defend his title before the end of 2022. Whether it’s in a rematch against Teixeira, a major European headliner against Polish ex-champion Jan Blachowicz, or against the winner of UFC 277’s Anthony Smith vs. Magomed Ankalaev bout, Prochazka will likely have his options.

Luckily, he’ll also have time to adapt to his newfound fame in the Czech Republic.

“Not so much now,” Prochazka said with a laugh when asked if he can walk outside without being stopped, “because now, this week, there’s everybody who recognizes me.”