Aleksandar Rakic plans to exploit ‘holes’ in Jiri Prochazka’s game

Aleksandar Rakic isn’t worried about Jiri Prochazka’s unorthodox style.

The April 13 duel between Rakic and Prochazka at UFC 300 is expected to be a striker’s delight, with both fighters known for doing damage in the standup. Rakic has had plenty of time to study the former light heavyweight champion, as he’s been on the shelf since May 2022 after suffering a serious knee injury in a loss to Jan Blachowicz — and from what he knows of Prochazka, he’s confident that he can take his spot in the contender’s line.

“If you see the fights with Jiri, in almost every UFC fight he got dropped,” Rakic said on The MMA Hour. “I would not say that his chin is weak, but he feels the punches really different than, for example, me. I was really surprised about the takedown against Pereira, he did it very well. This is one of the holes, to be almost losing every fight and then the other thing is, the good thing is, he’s always coming back and always finishes strong. So that’s a good thing about him.

“I just need to be careful and to be focused with him all the time.”

Prochazka suffered his first UFC loss this past November at UFC 295, where he was defeated via TKO by the always dangerous Alex Pereira in a vacant light heavyweight title fight. It wasn’t the first time Prochazka had been stung by a striker, but he’d previously had success winning back-and-forth battles with Glover Teixeira, Dominick Reyes, and Volkan Oezdemir. He didn’t get the chance to come back against “Poatan,” however.

As for Rakic, he’s coming off just his second UFC loss, though neither of his octagon setbacks have been definitive. In December 2019, he lost a contentious split decision against Oezdemir, and against Blachowicz the bout ended prematurely when Rakic tore his ACL in the third round of their fight.

A rematch between Rakic and Blachowicz was scheduled for UFC 297, but after Blachowicz withdrew due to the need to have surgery done on his shoulder, Rakic was instead moved to UFC 300 to face Prochazka.

“Ask me, of course, I want to close this chapter with Jan,” Rakic said. “But I really don’t feel that I lost the fight against Jan because he was the better man. I lost the fight because I injured myself and I beat myself, so this fight I didn’t see as a revenge. It was just a normal, regular fight.

“But I think for the fans, it’s more exciting to fight Jiri Prochazka. He’s from Czech Republic, I live in Austria, we are really close to each other, we are both European, we are both young, he has a very exciting style so I’d love to test myself against a former champion in this style.”

Rakic steps back into a light heavyweight title picture that is filled with question marks. Pereira is yet to schedule his first title defense, top contenders Magomed Ankalaev and Johnny Walker run it back after their first outing ended in a no-contest, former champion Jamahal Hill is still recovering from an Achilles injury, and the streaking Khalil Rountree Jr. also looms as a possible title challenger.

Depending on how he looks in his comeback fight, Rakic believes he has a chance of fighting for the title next.

“I think if I beat Jiri in good fashion, with a good performance, I will be in the title picture straightaway,” Rakic said. “I don’t know how long [Pereira] is going to take for the recovery, we don’t know what’s going to happen with the winner of Ankalaev-Walker, what they’re going to do, but I believe if I beat Jiri in good fashion I will be right into the mix.”

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