LAS VEGAS – Jiri Prochazka thinks he’s established himself as the top light heavyweight contender after a spectacular knockout of Dominick Reyes at UFC on ESPN 23.
Prochazka (28-3-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC) picked up a top candidate for “Knockout of the Year” on Saturday when he flattened Reyes (12-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC) with a spinning back elbow in the second round of their main event matchup at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
UFC president Dana White said prior to the event that the winner of the headlining bout would be next for champion Jan Blachowicz vs. Glover Teixeira, who are expected to fight for the 205-pound belt in September. He may only be two fights into his octagon tenure, but Prochazka agrees he’s earned it.
“Yes, I think I deserve that fight, but my journey in the UFC is so quick and I’m not enjoying that so much like I want,” Prochazka told reporters, including MMA Junkie, post-fight at UFC on ESPN 23. “But I think yeah, I deserve that title fight. Yeah.”
The fight between Prochazka and Reyes was a wild one while it lasted. They slugged it out on the feet for more than a round, then Prochazka landed the stunning knockout blow to secure “Performance of the Night” and “Fight of the Night” honors.
He didn’t show much regard for his defense in the fight, and said the final blow was not something he’s practiced or envisioned to finish the job.
“That was a just the flow,” Prochazka said. “Just the flow. That’s why I have this antenna (my hair), to catch these ideas. … Did you see my blocks? My defense. In the first fight (in my UFC debut), there wasn’t (defense). There’s not so much defense in this fight, but it’s how it worked. I still got to fix some things.”
It was a scary scene inside the octagon when Prochazka knocked out Reyes. It took a few minutes, but Reyes did leave the cage under his own power, and shared a moment of respect with Prochazka once he regained consciousness.
Prochazka said he holds Reyes in high regard, and was happy to put a top-ranked name on his resume.
“It’s a great feeling,” Prochazka said. “Dominick was a great opponent and he’s a nice, nice guy, like a person. After the fight and before the fight I felt from him, just nothing. No hate – just pure fighting, that’s what it’s about. That’s what I like.”