The light heavyweight championship bout headlines this Saturday’s UFC 275 card in Singapore. Anik, who calls the action alongside former UFC champions Daniel Cormier and Michael Bisping, recently spent time with the light heavyweight titleholder Teixeira, and there is something about this particular matchup that has the submission grappling legend as excited as can be, despite a lot of fans and bettors suggesting Teixeira is merely just holding the belt for Prochazka’s potential coronation.
“I guess it’s hard because when a 42-year-old man gets hit, generally speaking, it looks different than when a 26-year-old man gets hit,” Anik told MMA Fighting. “I was just in Connecticut with Glover Teixeira last month and, man, he’s ready to go right now. He looks strong as an ox, he couldn’t look healthier, just really excited about being champion and this fight. I don’t expect him to be around all that long, and it certainly stands to reason given Prochazka’s weaponry on the feet that Glover Teixeira could get knocked out in two minutes, and I don’t know if Glover would be totally surprised by that result because Glover knows how to mitigate risk but is willing to take risks at times to get things done.
“He’s willing, if he’s losing, to go get knocked out and go out on his shield, and that’s not something you can necessarily say about all of these fighters. Stylistically, it’s absolutely fascinating to see what he can do. His confidence in his submission grappling game is so strong that there will be this sort of rising tension in the building if this fight does go to the mat. There’s certainly going to be some navigation there, but Glover hit Jan Blachowicz hard with a left hand and that was sort of the beginning of the end for Jan, so I think Glover has a lot of confidence in his strength and conditioning, in his own power, but I think it’s pretty clear where both of these guys respectably want to take the fight.”
Teixeira captured the title with a dominant second-round submission of Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267 this past October that extended his incredible run of wins to six fights.
Prochazka, a former RIZIN champion, is 2-0 in the UFC with two devastating finishes of Volkan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes. In the latter fight in May 2021, Reyes had Prochazka in trouble at points, even getting full mount in the second round, before Prochazka unleashed the highlight-reel spinning back elbow that finished the bout.
If Teixeira finds himself in such an advantageous position on Saturday, the champ will have a great chance to end the fight — although Anik believes, like most, that Prochazka has been working tirelessly on making sure that doesn’t happen.
“I try not to get to predictive since I’m actually calling the fights, but I think developmentally it stands to reason that Jiri Prochazka, knowing this would be the type of challenge he’d have to navigate, would be better in theory than he was for the Dominick Reyes fight,” Anik said. “Glover’s game is so nuanced on the ground, there are levels to the game in MMA as my broadcast partners say a lot, but I do appreciate the shine on Prochazka as well.
“There’s guys on his Wikipedia page that you can’t click on, but there’s also Olympic gold medalists in Judo and other names, but I think the body of work for Prochazka largely is underappreciated. I do think he’s primed, he’s primal, I think there was a reason he was an alternate [for UFC 267]. I think he would be an unbelievable champion for the UFC, aesthetically off the charts in terms of his style, his mass appeal, so I’m excited to see what he does with the opportunity. But if I were Jiri and I could sort of handpick a guy in my bracket, I probably wouldn’t pick Glover Teixeira, even though he’s 42.”
If Prochazka is successful on Saturday, he will become UFC champion in just his third promotional fight. Seeing fighters immediately emerge after coming over to the UFC as stars in other promotions such as Anderson Silva wouldn’t be something new, but it would be incredibly impressive in the eyes of the longtime play-by-play voice.
“Brock Lesnar was very inexperienced and things happened for him quickly in the UFC, and I do believe largely that his body of work is underappreciated when you look at his wins against Randy Couture and Shane Carwin,” Anik explained. “But, man, I just look at Jiri’s experience and I don’t know the answer why he wasn’t in the UFC sooner, but it’s fascinating why it happened at this point in time.
“Largely, I think he deserves to be a 2-to-1 favorite and he’s getting this fight at the right time. Sometimes I feel like quick finishes can leave you with less to wrap your head around, but I think we’re all kind of fascinated by Jiri Prochazka, and I don’t think they’re going to make him cut his hair before the fight.”