How Long Can Jiri Prochazka Rule The UFC Light Heavyweight Division?
At UFC 275, Jiri Prochazka left with the UFC light heavyweight belt after finishing Glover Teixeira in the fifth round of an all-time great fight. With gold around his waist, it is time to discuss how long his reign as champion can last.
UFC 275 Cleared Up A Lot of Concerns
Coming into UFC 275 many people were high on Prochazka. In his two UFC fights his striking looked outstanding. His 80″ reach allows him to stay on the outside and his speed allows him to connect. He does all of this while striking from unorthodox angles making him hard to fight. This is all present with his one-punch knockout power. He displays those skills against Teixeira but that is not groundbreaking as everyone knew Prochazka had those abilities.
On the other hand, there were some questions surrounding Prochazka going into UFC 275. How good is the cardio? Can the chin hold up against an elite light heavyweight? Can he stop the takedown? If he gets taken down can he get up? All valid questions. At UFC 275, he gave a lot of good answers. Teixeira tested every single concern. He landed several massive shots. He took Prochazka down and looked for submissions. The pair went deep into round five at a ridiculous pace. In round five, Prochazka was the fresher fighter and found a submission as a result. Prochazka proved to have few weaknesses and his next opponent will have to be special to dethrone the new champ.
The Potential Area For Concern
Right now, Prochazka looks like a complete fighter with few weaknesses. With that being said, we might as well try and find some holes. After all, that is what his opponents are going to do. Right now, the biggest issue is that he gets hit a little too much. We have established that he has a good chin. But this is not flyweight, at light heavyweight one punch can put you out.
There are no other immediate concerns at the moment. Could more be discovered? Sure, but someone is going to have to go expose those weaknesses. On the surface, there are none.
Prochazka’s future opponents
Prochazka has only had three fights in the UFC. Needless to say, Prochazka will have a plethora of opponents lining up to challenge for his belt. First up could be Jan Blachowicz. A rematch against Teixeira is appealing as well. There is no reason to give an analytical breakdown of fights that are not booked but Prochazka likely wins both of those fights. He likely gives Blachowicz troubles on the feet and he just showed he can beat Teixeira.
Another potential fight could be the winner of Anthony Smith versus Magomed Ankalaev. Ankaleav may be the toughest matchup for Prochazka. He is very balanced with power and may be able to have success grappling. I am not saying Ankaleav wins but he probably has the best chance yet. On the other hand, Smith may struggle. Smith is a very good grappler and striker but I am not sure that he is good enough in either area to find consistent success.
Those are all fights that we could see in the near future. If Prochazka wants to have a lengthy title reign he will have to defend more than three more times. Looking outside of the top five, Jamahal Hill may be the only fighter that has a chance. If we are looking for a guy that could land a power shot that puts Prochazka out then Hill must be discussed. Hill has an argument to be the most powerful fighter in the division and has been able to land knockout shots repeatedly. Hill does have to prove he can do it against top-tier competition but he will have that opportunity when he fights Thiago Santos.
How long can Jiri Prochazka rule the light heavyweight division? A very long time. Will there be great challengers? Of course, but Prochazka has the ability to beat them all. I do think Ankalaev and Hill would give Prochazka problems. It will not be easy for Prochazka to get through this initial group of fighters but he can do it. If he does, he will rule the light heavyweight division for a long time. I am not going to say he will defend the belt 11 times like Jon Jones but he could surpass Tito Ortiz’s five defenses.