UFC Fight Night: Reyes vs Prochazka Analysis
This Saturday, the UFC put together a very fun card after an absolutely magical night at UFC 261. The momentum of the sport is crazy right now and should keep going with a card including a can’t miss main and co-main event along with some very promising prospects, proven veterans, and a great action fight.
Headlining the card is two top five light heavyweight finishers looking like the future of the division. A featherweight co-main between one of the most battle tested veterans in the 145lb division and kickboxing specialist looking like a promising contender in a division that you must be legitimate to stand out in. Yes, we love the mega PPVs but cards like these give us some of the best fights and finishes of the year and showcase the future talent that will eventually get to these mega shows.
#5 Contender Jiri Prochazka vs #3 Dominick Reyes
Starting with the main event we have a great fight between the #5 contender, the Czechoslovakian Jiri Prochazka and #3 Californian Dominick Reyes, two knockout artists with some similarities but also major differences. A combined total of 33 knockouts together; jinx aside, I feel there’s a very good chance they don’t reach the final bell.
Let’s get into Jiri first, one of the biggest characters of the divisions being big into a warrior philosophy under Sun Tzu and martial arts legend Bruce Lee. Jiri is constantly working on his mind with breathing exercises and meditation in nature. Some people might think it comes off as contrived but don’t get it twisted, he’s a samurai when he steps in there. Holding a phenomenal record of 27-3-1 with 26 finishes and has only been to a decision one time out of his 31 fights... this man does not play games.
Earning most of his high-level experience in major Japanese promotion RIZIN where he went 11-1 with 10 knockouts, picking up the 205lb title and participated in their heavyweight grand prix where he fought 3 times in 2 days. Jiri is intensely fascinating to watch. What Jiri brings to the table is speed, an awkward rhythm, and great finishing instincts. He has good power but throws strikes with more speed than going 100%. Good boxing with quick front kicks and flying knees. A big attribute Jiri has is his movement.
He tends to fight with his hands to disguise his striking, he gets away with this because of his quick footwork, he’s fantastic at sliding in and out of the pocket. It’s very hard to catch a beat on his striking. He mixes up his timing along with hand distractions like Anderson Silva and Lyoto Machida. He’ll wave his hands around and go to adjust his gloves then shoot a straight right to the head or body. Mix this in with his taunting and power he’s a very tricky striker to deal with.
Even though Jiri’s had only one fight in the UFC, he’s put together a solid resume so far with wins including finishes over UFC vets C.B. Dolloway, Fabio Maldonado, and Darko Stosic. Former Bellator 185lb champ Brandon Halsey and their current 205lb champ Vadim Nemkov, former Strikeforce 205lb champ King Mo Lawal, tie this in with his shocking UFC debut when he slept former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir, Jiri is on a fantastic run right now.
Let’s dive into Dom Reyes next. Similar style to Jiri in a speedy kickboxer with great power. Coming from a college football background which has shown his athleticism in his fighting style. Also had a career in information technology as technical support and he’s talked about how much that benefited his skillset with applying the problem solving needed in that field to his MMA game, you can see it with his fight IQ.
Dom is a great blend between intelligence and athletic ability. Like Jiri, with great footwork and kickboxing, with a speed over power style of striking, there are some things he does that makes him stand out. Footwork that allows him to evade and pivot that opens different angles for his clean boxing and roundhouse kicks. A great ability to fight backwards with very solid counter striking. He’s got one of the nastiest uppercuts in the 205lb division. He’s got very good takedown defense with thorough technique & strength that compliments it even more.
Holding a record of 6-2 in the UFC, he’s been through the ringer even with only 8 fights in the promotion. He took the UFC’s notice when he scored a viral head kick KO over Jordan Powell at LFA 13, Powell was taunting him the whole fight then Dom said enough cracked him like a baseball bat to the dome. He debuted in the UFC 4 weeks later and picked a nice TKO finish in the first round. He got his first big test when faced current top 5 middleweight contender Jared Cannonier when he knocked him out in 2 minutes of the first round. He then took on former title challenger and light heavyweight veteran Ovince St. Preux, it says a unanimous decision on his record but was robbed of a beautiful KO when Dom cut a beautiful angle and dropped OSP with crispy straight right in the last 10 seconds of the third round.
He went to knockout former middleweight champ Chris Weidman in the first round to earn a title shot against Jon Jones. The Jones fight was one of the most controversial fights of 2020. Dom had the fight of his life putting Jon through one of the toughest fights in his career but lost a close unanimous decision but a lot of fans and media felt it was a robbery. UFC rewarded Dom with a vacant title fight against Jan Blachowicz which many people felt he was going to run through Jan but seems like Dom looked past him a bit and lost the fight. Yes, he’s coming off two losses in a row but when Dom’s locked in, he’s one of the best 205er’s on
the planet, I think he has more title fights in store for the future.
Main Event Analysis
Though Jiri is the betting favorite going into this, I think Dom is his biggest test in his career. Jiri’s defense has me worried for him, his hands low style leaves him open to be countered and he does get touched from time to time. Before Jiri finished Volkan in his debut Volkan was having some success with a jab and even stunned him at one moment. The Volkan fight was 9 months ago so of course Jiri has been getting better, but the biggest variable will be how loose or tight he keeps his guard. Dom should work his kicks; Jiri relies on putting a lot of his weight on his lead leg. Dom should also work the body kicks to take some of the speed off Jiri over 5 rounds. Even with all the criticism I have for Jiri I think he’s going to give Dom hell the first 3 rounds. His awkward feints and hand movements could catch Dom off guard and pull off a huge finish. Having gutted out in such a tough 5 round fight with Jon Jones if Dom makes it to the 4th or 5th rounds it’s his fight to lose. It’ll be interesting to see regardless of the winner. Whoever wins this fight will most likely face Aleksandar Rakic in a number one contender fight to face the winner of Jan Blachowicz vs Glover Teixeira in September.
The Co-Main Event: Swanson vs Chikadze
Next up we have my favorite fight on the card, a great co-main event in the featherweight division between Cub Swanson and Giga Chikadze. Battle worn veteran MMA striker taking on one of the best Georgian Contenders who’s had great success in kickboxing looking to carry it over in the UFC now. Chikadze comes in holding a record of 5-0 in the UFC with a 38-6 record in kickboxing including wins of Glory 145lb champions Kevin VanNostrand and Serhiy Adamchuk. His body kick finish of Victor Pinto was one of the most brutal body finishes I’ve ever seen that left Pinto folded loudly wheezing minutes after the fight was stopped. Since moving his training to King’s MMA Giga has done a great job rounding out his skillset to keep the fight on the feet which will be a nightmare for anybody in the featherweight division.
Cub Swanson is no push over, though. Fighting at the highest level since 2007 in the WEC, debuted in the UFC in 2011. Cub has had one of the toughest strength of schedules out of anybody in the 145lb division. Fighting guys like former UFC champions like Jens Pulver, Jose Aldo, Frankie Edgar twice, and Max Holloway. With great wins over Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira, Dustin Poirier, Artem Lobov, Kron Gracie, Tatsuya Kawajiri, and his 2016 fight of the year with Doo Hoi Choi. He’s a unique striker with wild looping punches mixed with clean combinations, spinning kicks, cartwheel kicks, great cardio, and a fantastic ground game on top of everything. At age 37 which is a tough age to compete at the lighter weight classes, Cub is looking to make one final run at the title. It’s simple how this fight goes. For Giga keep it standing at kicking range, make it a kickboxing match. For Cub, if we’re striking, get in boxing range, mix up the phases, shoot for a takedown, use your BJJ black belt, and dirty box in the clinch. Giga’s striking isn’t going to be as effective if he’s worried about getting taken down.
We got some great matchups on the undercard to keep your eye on! We got a light heavyweight action fight between Moldovan juggernaut Ion Cutelaba against the American kickboxer Dustin Jacoby. Middleweights Sean Strickland and the Polishmen Krzysztof Jotko going up against each other to see who’s going to be the new contender. One of the most dominant prospects at 135lbs, the Georgian wrestler Merab Dvalishvili is taking on Michigan’s Cody Stamann. One of the hardest kickers in the featherweight division Gabriel Benitez looking to stay busy against Jonathan Pearce. One of my favorite prospects in the strawweight division, Muay Thai specialist Loma Lookboonme looks to keep climbing the ladder against Sam Hughes.