Jiri Prochazka reveals pre-UFC 295 staph infection that lingered for months

Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka believes he knows exactly the mistakes that cost him the chance to win back the title against Alex Pereira at UFC 295.

“There were small things that I didn’t keep in the preparation, and it was the details that was the main thing in that fight,” Prochazka said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I’m very happy for that. That fight reminded me of these mistakes, because more than anything, I like to make myself better in fighting, in life, in everything, day by day.

“That’s why I’m happy for that, and that’s why I can say now I’ll really be better, and next fight, it doesn’t matter who the opponent is, I will win and I will go for the title. I’m glad for all these things that gave me the positive view for my way.”

Prochazka’s path leads to a fight with fellow European standout Aleksandar Rakic at UFC 300, which takes place April 13 in Las Vegas. The next time he walks to the octagon, he vows to be the best version of himself. That will no doubt be more achievable without the illness he battled before UFC 295.

A staph infection drastically affected Prochazka’s training camp, he said Monday. On top of other lingering issues like the shoulder injury that initially cost him the belt, the preparation he managed was subpar.

“That shoulder I felt was not in full power, but there were many f***ups in preparation, because from the last five weeks of preparation, I trained just one week,” he said. “After the fight, I fought with it more than one month. Antibiotics I had before the fight, so that five weeks before the fight was totally…yeah.”

Prochazka said the infection started in his leg and spread to the rest of his body, showing up where he least expected.

“One morning, I woke up and my ear was like four times bigger, and then another thing, and then another, so it was a lot of things,” he said.

Prochazka never considered withdrawing from the fight, he said, because he’d previously fallen ill and been injured prior to fights. With the right belief, he believed he could overcome, as he had before.

Even now, the ex-champ said the fight was going his way until a critical lapse.

“With a good standup guy, there is no place for small mistakes, because he’s good with details,” Prochazka said. “But until that moment, that fight was in my hands, and that’s why I felt, ‘Man, you had that guy in every moment, but you did one mistake.’ That’s what keeps me on the way to believe that I’m the champion, and I can go for that title.”

Prochazka said the mistake – getting caught with Pereira’s signature left hook – was one he’d committed in his previous knockout loss, a 2015 meeting with Muhammad Lawal. That made it infinitely more frustrating, but also something he could address.

“I don’t like to repeat mistakes,” he said. “That’s what I hate most. That’s why I have no other direction than to go through this fight, because I don’t like to fight like that, to do bad moves, to do mistakes. There is no time for that.”

Prochazka doesn’t regret taking the fight in retrospect, because he takes ownership for the outcome. He doesn’t blame his physical condition, or the performance of the ref, either.

“I never regret, because what happened, happened,” he said. “It was my bad decision. But right now, I already knew what mistake it was. My team knew that, and that’s why I’m happy for that. … Let’s go back to the hard work and let’s take this important fight and victory which is before me. Let’s take it.”

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