UFC 275: Teixeira Looks to Avoid Midnight Against Electrifying Prochazka

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UFC 275 Glover Teixeira and Jiri Prochazka
SINGAPORE, SINGAPORE - JUNE 08: face off during the UFC 275 media day at the Mandarin Oriental on June 8, 2022 in Singapore. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Glover Teixeira’s title victory was one of the feel good stories of 2022, but he will need to hold off both a younger challenger and Father Time once again to keep the belt when he fights the electrifying Jiri Prochazka at UFC 275.

When you remember Randy Couture dominating Tim Sylvia to become the oldest champion in UFC history at 43 years-old in 2007, your mind immediately jumps to that moment in the first round.  Couture, undersized and outgunned against the reigning champion, catching Sylvia with an overhand right that brought the entire arena to their feet.  “The Natural” needed all 25 minutes to win the belt back that night, but to many that fight ended then and there.

Glover Teixeira’s victory last October lacks the nostalgia of that moment, but was nonetheless just as remarkable even if it lacked that dramatic sequence. While Teixeira had put together a five fight win-streak to return to title contention, most still expected the knockout power and experience of champion Jan Blachowicz to give him plenty to deal with.  Instead, it seemed as if the stars aligned for Teixeira as he outmaneuvered Blachowicz at every turn to avoid heavy damage and get the second round submission to win the title.

At 42 years-old, Teixeira’s victory was a seminal one to say the least.  After going 4-4 between 2014 and 2017, it appeared for a time that his run may not be destined to end with a UFC title.  Now, after adding Blachowicz to a resume that also includes Thiago Santos and Anthony Smith, the question is: how long Teixeira’s Cinderella run can continue before a younger contender makes the clock strike midnight?  If he can turn back the latest challenger, it will be hard to not make him the favorite against the competition coming after him.

For audiences that are only familiar with the promotions that operate in the Western Hemisphere, you may not realize exactly how dazzling Jiri Prochazka’s resume is.  The former RIZIN champion operated for years in Japan where he defeated current Bellator champion Vadim Nemkov, current Bellator contender Karl Albrektsson, former Bellator champion Brandon Halsey, and former Strikeforce champion Muhammad “King Mo” Lawal.  Along the way, his exciting style made him a marquee attraction.

It is this reputation that has seen Prochazka have a rise to prominence seemingly faster than Khamzat Chimaev despite only two UFC appearances.  Of course, he made them count as his promotional debut in 2020 saw him stop former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir in the second round.  His following bout was his first UFC headliner, and he used it to great effect by stopping another title challenger in Dominick Reyes with a spinning back-elbow that was in the running for Knockout of the Year honors.  Saturday will mark a little over a year since the fight, but his style and his presence as a breath of fresh air has led to the UFC maintaining their stance since last year that he would be next for the belt.

While a UFC title victory would be a career changing moment for Prochazka, he has admitted himself that he will need to approach his battle with Teixeira differently.  The challenger will need to take a more disciplined approach and pick his spots to engage with Teixeira on the feet as to leave less openings to be taken down and let the champion wear him down.  Teixeira should look to use a multi-faceted attack where he hides takedown attempts behind a crisp boxing attack.  Most importantly, he should avoid getting into exchanges in the center of the cage with the younger and explosive challenger.

A victory for Prochazka would set up any number of scenarios, but most expect a meeting with former champion Jan Blachowicz in a high profile event in Eastern Europe.  While Teixeira has also mentioned interest in Blachowicz, the fact that their bout was rather recent and one-sided has many pundits expecting that the next title shot if Teixeira is the title holder could go to the winner of the upcoming bout between Anthony Smith and Magomed Ankalaev in late July.

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