Jiri Prochazka had no idea what kind of reception awaited him back home in the Czech Republic following his thrilling submission of Glover Teixeira at UFC 275.
But a raucous scene with thousands upon thousands of his countrymen and compatriots thronging the town square to celebrate the first Czech champion in UFC history?
“I didn’t expect that,” Prochazka admitted on MMA time.
“In the Czech Republic, it was a big deal. It was a big thing because it’s the highest peak for MMA fighters for them – and I won that. And I know it felt like [a] 50-50 [fight], but I won that fight, and I think people here, I think they can be proud of that. That the small Czech Republic now has the champion of the biggest [MMA promotion in the world].”
Prochazka, 29, had a feeling ahead of UFC 275 that a win could become a big deal for his native country, if only because of the attention he was getting from Czech outlets ahead of the fight. Teixeira was overshadowing the attention he received for his other major fights. in the old days.
But not even Prochazka could have foreseen just how pivotal the moment would become after his success in a five-round war many hailed as the new ‘fight of the year’ favorite – and one of the biggest fights ever. UFC light heavyweights. all time.
“I just wanted to share that energy, the energy of winning with them,” Prochazka said of the crowd. “Because the people in the Czech Republic who watch MMA and understand MMA, they are really energetic people, and they were so, so, so loud.
“It was amazing. It was emotional and I’m happy to represent the Czech Republic in the UFC.
The moment was well deserved not only for the historic nature of Prochazka’s victory, but also because the new UFC light heavyweight champion had to go through hell and back to claim his title. Prochazka and Teixeira nearly finished each other several times in the fight, and Prochazka was actually down on two of the three judges’ scorecards heading into the final round before pulling off a miracle comeback with 28 seconds left.
“He was tough. He was a tough fighter,” Prochazka said of Teixeira.
“As his state of mind and his [perseverance] in the fight were amazing. I think [he’s] one of the toughest fighters i have ever met. I met a lot of guys who were so strong. Glover wasn’t that strong. He wasn’t that fast, like fast. He wasn’t that fast. But his state of mind [keep] go to [keep] going, always going, through all these obstacles and all these things, always going on – that was, on his part, very clever and that’s what makes him dangerous.
Prochazka said he hopes to compete again soon and defend his title before the end of 2022. Whether in a rematch against Teixeira, a major European headliner against former Polish champion Jan Blachowicz, or against the UFC 277 winner Anthony Smith vs. Magomed Fight against Ankalaev, Prochazka will likely have his options.
Fortunately, he will also have time to adjust to his newfound fame in the Czech Republic.
“Not so much now,” Prochazka said with a laugh when asked if he could walk outside without being stopped, “because now, this week, everyone recognizes me.”