Former UFC light heavyweight kingpin Jiri Prochazka is hoping to return to his Octagon this summer after suffering a shoulder injury last year that forced him to vacate the 205-pound strap.
Prochazka was due to make his first title defense in December at UFC 282 against Glover Teixeira, but a few weeks before the fight, “Denisa” was eliminated with a severely injured shoulder. Two months later, Prochazka appeared on MMA Fighting’s Monday episode “The MMA Hour” to provide an update to host Ariel Helwani.
“Everything is going great,” said Prochazka. “I’m going to Las Vegas next week to continue the rehab and get all these processes done quickly [have] the quickest way back. I don’t wanna be [too] quick for the shoulder, but it’s going to be a lot better than everyone expects, so I’m happy about that.
“I think I may be back in July or August, something like that. Six or seven months, something like that. ‘Cause I don’t want the quickest way back just to fight.
“I know that’s not the best attitude. I want to be sure that my body is working at 200 percent and I think that can be this summer. Just let me work on it and I’ll be back as soon as possible.”
Prochazka’s vacated belt was contested on two separate occasions. Former champion Jan Blachowicz and contender Magomed Ankalaev headlined UFC 282 for the strap in December, but the fight ended in a tie. UFC President Dana White announced after the fight that Teixeira and Jamahal Hill would duel for the belt on Jan. 21 at UFC 283.
This match produced a new champion. Hill took it to Teixeira and set a record for most significant punches landed in a UFC 205-pound match. The headliner went all five rounds and “Sweet Dreams” was awarded the vacant title by sweeping the judges’ scorecards.
When asked about the fight, Prochazka admitted he was “surprised” by Teixeira’s performance. He also congratulated Hill and stated that he was excited to take on the 31-year-old champion.
“I was a bit surprised by Glover Teixeira’s performance, his energy and his speed,” said Prochazka. “He was so slow. He was a bit slow. Amazing work by Jamahal, he did everything right. So congratulations to him and I look forward to him.
“I thought [Teixeira] had great chances of winning, especially in Rio in front of a home crowd. Everything worked for him at this event, so I’m a bit surprised, but that’s a good thing. A good move for the light heavyweight division, and I’m happy about that. I’m happy with this result because Jamahal Hill is a young guy, he’s dangerous and I like that [have] in front of me someone like him who [will] challenge me I’m looking forward to the start of training.”
Prochazka earned the belt in June after defeating Teixeira in a five-round all-time war. With less than a minute left, Denisa caught Teixeira in a rear naked choke, forcing the tap and taking his title.