Magomed Ankalaev vs. Jan Blachowicz was pretty much the last fight Jiri Prochazka wanted to see on Dec. 10, but after five rounds, he had no doubt about who won.
The former UFC light heavyweight champ, of course, planned to rematch Glover Teixeira before a severe injury forced him to withdraw from UFC 282 and vacate the belt. But he agreed with those who scored the fight for Ankalaev, whose late-fight resurgence was not enough to overcome a split draw in the official result of the pay-per-view headliner.
Prochazka also resolved to beat whomever held the belt when he returned.
“One-hundred percent, like everybody who watched that, Ankalaev was 100 percent the winner, but it was really close,” Prochazka said on The MMA Hour. “I really appreciated that he showed a big warrior’s spirit, because his leg was f***** up, and he showed really nice heart in that fight.
“Jan, he didn’t use the opportunity to end Ankalaev with that [leg kick], because everybody watched that. So [it] doesn’t matter about their fight, doesn’t matter about what will be next. I will be focused on what’s next for me and be in my best shape for the fight.”
Twenty-three of 25 media outlets scored the fight for Ankalaev, according to MMADecisions.com. Ankalaev was also the winner of the fight according to Verdict MMA, which averages scores submitted by community members.
Ankalaev and his team were in the gym when Prochazka’s injury happened, Prochazka said, and one of Ankalaev’s teammates was responsible for attempting to pop the former champ’s shoulder back into place. The ex-champ took responsibility for his injury, however, and estimated he would be able to return in six months.
In the meantime, Teixeira and Jamahal Hill are set to fight for the still-vacant title at UFC 283 on Jan. 21 in Rio de Janeiro. Hill originally was scheduled to face one-time title challenger Anthony Smith, who now may serve as a backup fighter in case either fighter is ruled out of the fight.
“It’s a crazy situation, but I think that was a little disrespectful to Smith, but our division must move forward,” Prochazka said. “Because how I see that, I’m the one and only guy who is still evolving, and who is showing a true potential of the light heavyweight. Because there is a lot of guys who are fighting to win, to just make money, and this is not about [that]. This is about the best performances. We’re in the UFC, and the guys have to respect that. We’re in the best organization of the martial arts, and you have to show some art, what you’re working on all your life and career, and our division must move forward.
“That’s why I respect the opinion and the result. The next title fight will be in Brazil … If Hill is talking like he’s the best, OK, let’s show it, and I will be glad if he will show a great performance, because after I return, I will show him or whoever will be there, I’m 200 percent on another level.”
Prochazka has no preference for who he’ll face when he returns to the octagon. The division has moved so fast, anyway, that it’s not useful to make a prediction. The only one he’ll stick to is that he will retake the title he never lost.
“Show me the best opponent, and I will win,” he said.