By: Kenny Lee
UFC Vegas 25 will take place this Saturday back in the UFC APEX in Las Vegas headlined by two of the most exciting light heavyweight contenders in the upper echelons of the division.
Former title challenger Dominick Reyes will take on the surging Jiří Procházka in what is expected to be an explosive main event. Both fighters have proved they possess the power to knock out anyone in the division with a single punch as they look to gain a title shot at the light heavyweight belt in this potential title eliminator.
In the co-main event, UFC veteran Cub Swanson will be taking on the rising Giga Chikadze who is riding a five fight winning streak and will be looking to earn his win in what will be his biggest fight to date against a high profile in Swanson.
Here is a preview of the main event between these two top five light heavyweights.
The last time we saw Reyes (12-2) in the octagon, he was soundly defeated by the current UFC light heavyweight champion of the world, Jan Blachowicz back in September last year for the vacant light heavyweight belt. In hindsight, looking back on the shock KO defeat to the Polishman, the defeat doesn’t look as bad as it did back then as Blachowicz went on to defend his belt against the then undefeated Israel Adesanya in convincing fashion proving to the world time and time again that no matter how big of an underdog he is, he comes out with a victory.
Prior to the loss to Blachowicz, Reyes was coming off a controversial loss to arguably one of the greatest MMA fighters of all time against Jon Jones. The fight was razor close with many believing Reyes won that fight arguing that he won at least three rounds by outstriking Jones throughout most of the contest. However the judges awarded the victory to Jones much to Reyes’s dismay.
That was his first professional loss, a loss that had elevated his status as he gave Jones his toughest fight in recent years. Nevertheless, Reyes had lost his precious undefeated status though many saw him as some sort of uncrowned champion as he went into the vacant light heavyweight title fight as a massive favourite against Blachowicz. Sadly, he was defeated but here he has a chance against Procházka to really make a statement that he is of the elite class and to show the world that his fight against Jones was no fluke but he has all the attributes and athleticism to become a champion. A win here could propel either man to a title shot.
Before he had beaten the likes of Jared Cannonier, Ovince Saint Preux and Chris Weidman. His biggest profile win was against Weidman when he knocked out the former UFC middleweight champion in the first round. Competing professionally since 2014, Reyes is still very much in the prime of his career at the age of 31 and has potential to become champion.
Procházka (27-3-1) had a lot of hype when he joined the UFC and the man from Czech Republic showed everyone why people were so high on him when he knocked out Volkan Oezdemir in his UFC debut.
At UFC 251 back in July 2020, Prochazka made his highly anticipated UFC debut facing off against a top 10 elite fighter in Oezdemir. Oezdemir was a former title challenger and had beaten top fighters against the likes of Aleksandar Rakić, Ilir Latifi and Jimi Manuwa. Very durable as a fighter, Oezdemir had never been knocked out in his professional career. Procházka knocked him out with one punch.
And just like that Procházka welcomed himself into the top 5 in the light heavyweight division. Prior to joining the UFC, Procházka was the former RIZIN FF light heavyweight champion when he finished Muhammed Lawal in April 2019. Currently riding a 11 fight winning streak, the man hasn’t loss since 2015 and has finished 9 of his last 11 wins by KO/TKO by punches.
He was also the GCF light heavyweight champion in his local promotion back in Czech Republic in 2013 and defended it successfully. Procházka also has a win over current Bellator light heavyweight champion, Vadim Nemkov, the protege of legendary MMA Heavyweight and Sambo master Fedor Emilianenko.
A veteran of over 30 fights, Procházka may have the advantage in experience over Reyes. He rejected the UFC call up a few years ago as he did not feel he was ready for the big premier league until he was ready to challenge the elite of the elites of the UFC light heavyweight division. Now he has been thrown into the deep end and is relishing the challenges ahead. A win here would certainly earn him a title shot at the UFC belt. He has been champion in other promotions, now it’s time for the big league. He will carry the champion mentality into these upcoming fights.
Procházka is wild and unpredictable. He throws punches from all sorts of angles and has shown throughout his career that he can knock anyone out in the 205 pound division. The different angles he shows with his offence is very difficult to read and combine that with the fact he has a reach advantage over most of his opponents including Reyes, makes Procházka a very formidable foe.
His defence is where things start to get questionable. Procházka uses his unorthodox movement to evade attacks which sometimes leaves him quite open, especially when he is moving forward. This is where Reyes does his best work. Reyes is great at drawing his opponents into boxing exchanges, and shooting that quick left straight down the pipe. Procházka needs to be careful when applying the pressure against a sniper like Reyes.
Reyes also uses effective leg kicks to the opponent’s lead leg to pick them apart. Reyes could use the leg kicks to take away Procházka power from his hands. Procházka has shown in the past to be heavy on the lead leg and open to such leg kicks. Usually this results in Procházka crowding his opponent to take away the leg kicks all together.
However you can never count out the unpredictability of Procházka. In a sport where the unpredictable happens all too often, Procházka seems to fit in. The key to victory in this fight for either man would be who could manage the striking exchanges better.