Jiri Prochazka is the silent assassin nicknamed ‘Denisa’ who is set to face Dominick Reyes in the main event of UFC on ESPN 23.
He’s one of Europe’s most successful MMA fighters of the past decade, but Prochazka is still a relative unknown to most fans. His hybrid fighting style helps to add to the mystique. However, don’t expect that to last for much longer.
Prochazka (27-3-1), a former Rizin FF light heavyweight champion, put the rest of the 205-pound division on notice after starching former UFC title challenger Volkan Oezdemir at UFC 251 in July 2020.
It was only the second time Oezdemir had been stopped in his entire professional career.
UFC commentator Michael Bisping called Prochazka “very exciting” after his knockout victory over Oezdemir but Prochazka himself wasn’t satisfied with his performance.
“I don’t know [Reyes] personally, but he looks like a good man,” Prochazka said to MMAJunkie at Wednesday’s media day at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. “He’s a very good athlete, very good striker, and that’s how I’m taking him: seriously, not like I was in the first fight, in the first round. I was a little bit – I took it a little bit easier, and now I want to keep it most professionally how I can.”
“I think I’m ready for the fighting in the standup because that’s my state of fighting,” he added. “I think maybe he will change the strategy to me, and he wants to take me down, and I’m ready for that, to wrestle with him and to fight on the ground. That was my preparation.”
Reyes (12-2), of Victorville, California, is another top prospect and a two-time UFC light-heavyweight title challenger, but Prochazka has made a name for himself as a finisher, with only one of his fights going the distance.
Of course, Jan Blachowicz is the king of the UFC’s light-heavyweight division right now, but keep an eye on Prochazka who will likely fight for the title before the end of 2021.
However, he won’t let anything distract him from his goal of becoming champion as he insists he is fully focused on his upcoming fight with Reyes and nothing else.
“For me, it’s not important right now,” he concluded. “I don’t think about it right now because I’m enjoying the journey in the UFC. If this title will be after one fight, two fights, for me it’s not so important. I want to just show my best on this event.”