Jiri Prochazka’s spinning back elbow finish of Dominick Reyes in the UFC on ESPN 23 main event may have put him in the running for “Knockout of the Year,” but it doesn’t even top the Czech fighter’s own personal highlight reel.
While Prochazka didn’t name a specific knockout on his resume that would surpass what he did on Saturday night at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, he did explain that his latest effort didn’t top the list because there were a few too many precarious moments against Reyes for his liking.
“No, [it wasn’t my best finish],” Prochazka said at the post-fight press conference. “There was a much better ending in my career in the fights because I [didn’t have] this fight under control all the time. Because Dominick surprised me many times. That’s for a man like me, that’s not good. I like to be the best in these things. To be the best and when you mean something or somebody is the best, that was not the best really.
“There was so many chances to end the fight earlier than it was. I don’t want to be in the cage so long. Why? Why to be so long and do this war? Because that’s not mastery. That’s not mastery. I’m looking for the mastery and that wasn’t.”
Of the 28 wins on Prochazka’s record, 25 have come via knockout or technical knockout — including 21 in the opening stanza. Moments before the fight-ending sequence, Reyes had Prochazka reeling after connecting with a blow that prompted the dazed former Rizin champ to shoot for a takedown. After Reyes failed on an ensuing guillotine attempt and then scrambled back to his feet, a recovered Prochazka tracked him down and followed a right elbow with the spinning left elbow that sent his opponent crashing forward to the canvas. It’s a moment that’s going to live on in highlight videos for the rest of the year — and beyond.
“It’s a great feeling,” Prochazka said. “Dominick was a great opponent and he’s a nice, nice guy, like a person. After the fight and before the fight I felt from him, just nothing. No hate – just pure fighting, that’s what it’s about. That’s what I like.”
UFC president Dana White previously said that Saturday’s winner would be next in line for a light heavyweight title shot. Though he’s only two fights into his promotional tenure, Prochazka believes he is up to the task.
“Yes, I think I deserve that fight, but my journey in the UFC is so quick and I’m not enjoying that so much like I want,” Prochazka said. “But I think yeah, I deserve that title fight.”
For now, the man known as “Denisa” will wait to see what happens when reigning champion Jan Blachowicz and Glover Teixeira square off at UFC 266 on Sept. 4. He’ll also focus on making improvements from what he learned against Reyes in one of the year’s wildest fights thus far.
“I’m more focused on upgrading my style now. If Jan Blachowicz or Glover Teixeira is my next opponent, it doesn’t matter to me. I need to work on my mistakes from this fight and be better. That’s my way. I want to share the Octagon with the toughest opponent in the world. I want to be the best.”
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