Jiri Prochazka still hopes to return before the end of 2023 to regain the title he never lost inside the octagon.
After Alex Pereira defeated Jan Blachowicz at UFC 291 in a bout UFC president Dana White proclaimed as a title eliminator, it became a foregone conclusion that Prochazka and Pereira were destined to battle for the vacant light heavyweight belt. Prochazka believes the bout will be a great matchup for the fans, and would still like it to happen this year, with his injured shoulder finally at 100 percent health.
“That’s my next fight, [it] will be [for] the title. So I think that Alex is the [opponent], [and has] the very good chance to show the world a good title fight. And I’d like to see him as my opponent in my next fight, Prochazka said recently on The MMA Hour.
“Right now I’m on a technical camp so I don’t know what date they have for the fight. It doesn’t matter. I want to fight this year, so let’s talk about the date, the space for this fight.”
When watching UFC 291’s title eliminator, Prochazka said he wasn’t rooting for one fighter over the other. Prochazka vacated the title after injuring his shoulder prior to a scheduled rematch with the now-retired Glover Teixeira at UFC 282 this past December, who happens to be the man he defeated for the championship. Teixeira is also one of Pereira’s main coaches and mentors who has helped the Brazilian make his successful transition from kickboxing to MMA.
And after speaking with Teixeira recently, Prochazka is now excited to face Pereira for the chance to get two wins over the duo.
“For me, it doesn’t matter,” Prochazka explained. “I want to be the best, that’s why I’m working on the wrestling, the jiu-jitsu, ground and pound, and everything to push it to the next level — [working on] the standup too, to face whoever. For me, it doesn’t matter who is the opponent.
“Right now, after the messages to Glover, I want to fight with Pereira right now because it seems like the second fight with Glover [won’t] happen, and Pereira is his second version but more in the standup, so let’s do that.”