UFC light heavyweight champion Jiří Procházka sustained a serious shoulder injury and is vacating his title. Here’s what you need to know:
- Procházka was scheduled to defend the belt on Dec. 10 against Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC 282.
- Procházka won the belt by submitting Teixeira in June at UFC 275.
- The injury to his right shoulder was sustained while wrestling and will require surgery that will keep him out for at least six months.
- The new main event for UFC 282 will be between former champion Jan Błachowicz and Magomed Ankalaev.
Just six months into his first title reign, Procházka’s run as light heavyweight champion came to a shocking end. UFC president Dana White told Yahoo Sports that Procházka’s injury was “the worst shoulder injury the doctors have seen in UFC history.”
“It’s really f—— bad. His shoulder is very, very bad. He’s going to have serious surgery that will require extensive rehab.”
The Dec. 10 bout would have been Teixeira’s fourth career title fight. White told Yahoo Sports that Teixeira was offered the fight against Ankalaev, but “for some reason, he didn’t want the fight, so we had to move on.”
Procházka posted on Instagram that he “will go for the UFC belt as soon as the doctors give me the green light to go fight.”
How special could Procházka’s reign have been?
Jiří Procházka’s rapid ascent in the UFC light heavyweight ranks was so dominant that it was hard to not picture him as a long-time champion. He won the belt over Teixeira in just his third UFC fight and all three wins have come via impressive finishes.
He fights with a thrilling unique style and will likely come back as a top-tier contender whenever he returns.
“I’ll be back in six months and I’ll take the title (from) whoever holds it,” he wrote. – Puleo
What to expect from Błachowicz-Ankalaev
As the consolation title fight, a collision between Błachowicz and Ankalaev is far from a disappointment.
Ankalaev boasts the second-longest UFC winning streak in the division, with all nine wins coming since 2018. The Russian possesses a strong wrestling base to go with a diverse stand-up game, featuring swift kicks and heavy combinations. Five of the victories in his winning streak have come by finish.
Błachowicz, the champion who reigned before Teixeira, is a known top-commodity amongst light heavyweights. Fighting in the UFC 205-pound division since 2014, Błachowicz turned around his career after losing four of his first six fights in the promotion. He also fought for the belt the last time the light heavyweight title was vacated, winning the strap in 2020.
Błachowicz used his length and smothering ground game to stunt former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya’s attempt at winning a second belt at UFC 259 before Błachowicz dropped the title to Teixeira in 2021.
“It all fell into place for us as it often seems to do,” White told Yahoo Sports. “But that’s a great fight, too, and now it’s for the full title.” – Puleo
What’s next for Teixeira?
The 43-year-old Teixeira looked extremely strong in his title bout against Procházka in June, looking well on his way to defending his title before getting caught in a last-minute rear-naked choke. Teixeira had entered that fight on a six-fight winning streak and looked to be getting stronger with age, finishing five of those fights by finish, including four submissions.
The Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt is feared as one of the strongest grapplers in the world and owns the UFC record for most finishes and submissions in the division. But while his career may not be over, his performance drop-off could come at any fight. – Puleo
(Photo: Mike Roach / Zuffa LLC)