Jiri Prochazka (-210) vs Glover Teixeira (+165)
Prochazka: DK: $k | Teixeira: DK:$k
UFC 275 will be a race against the clock. Glover’s nointeen fights and a decade of experience inside the Octagon earned him the fastest lap time and subsequently the lead pole position. Jiri Prochazka’s mere two fights inside the Octagon and fairly untested ground game will force him to draft from the back of the pack. This race, however, will be far from the grinding three-hour five hundred mile Indy 500. It will be more like Bob Glidden’s red Motorcraft stock car and John Force’s green Castrol GTX funny car firing down a quarter-mile track in mere seconds. Can Glover Teixeira take down Jiri Prochazka and submit him before Glover gets KO’d?
Since turning forty, Glover Teixeira is up 3-0 in a best of seven series against Father Time. Against Anthony Smith, Glover beat the hour hand into a bloody pulp and even apologized for the ass whooping he was administering, mid-ass whooping. Glover then faced the wild Thiago Santos and strangled the minute hand until it turned into Chong Li, yelling “Matte!” The more elusive minute hand suffered a similar fate when Glover won the belt, submitting Jan Blachowicz in less than two rounds.
Glover will make his first title defense as the official Tom Brady of MMA. Many (meaning me) predicted years ago that Glover would fall off a cliff and cease to be competitive before he ever got another shot at the belt. They (me) were wrong. Their (my) doubt was always rooted in the fact that Glover, like Charles Oliveira, almost loses every fight he wins. At some point in many Glover Teixeira fights (except against Blachowicz), he looks like he’s walking on hot coals. As soon as the bell rings, Glover looks like a teetering Jenga tower; you never know which grazing or missed punch will send him toppling over.
But Glover holds a patent on the zombie takedown technique and exclusive-use rights. The zombie takedown is initiated when Glover’s rocked, looking like he’s cruising around the mall in a pair of Heelys. He stumbles forward with his arms outstretched, latches on to the opponent, and drags them to the mat. It works every fookin’ time.
Teixeira remained competitive heading into his forties because he switched his style up out of necessity. He did what Carmelo Anthony refused to do when he left the Knicks and led to Carmelo looking at semi-retirement before the Blazers gave him shot. Carmelo didn’t want to accept a new role coming off the bench, not being THE guy. Teixeira went from a striking-first style to a grapple-first style, essentially accepting his role as a sixth man to remain relevant. Since being KO’d by Alexander Gustafsson in 2017, Glover has won seven of eight and is currently riding a six-fight winning streak; five of the six came by finish.
Glover used to have heavy hands and unrelenting pressure on the feet and would force his way on the inside and unload with short chopping hooks. But those days are long gone. He no longer has the hand speed to get inside, and he mostly has to commit to eating punches to close the distance to initiate the clinch or a single leg. But when Glover gets the fight to the mat, he shines, and very few fighters can match his grappling prowess. It’s like fighters just quit when Glover gets on top of them. They take their pogs and slammers and go home. Suddenly they don’t want to win as badly as they once thought they did. Glover’s keys to victory: Avoiding prolonged exchanges on the feet and selling out for takedowns. It’s unlikely Teixeira will successfully navigate around Jiri’s power and unpredictable strikes for twenty-five minutes. Especially when it’s likely every round will begin with Glover doing the Griddy before he breaks into the Thriller zombie shuffle. But you can make the argument Glover is most dangerous when he’s hurt, looking like he’s trying to catch invisible butterflies with a catcher’s mitt.
Jiri Prochazka is the modern MMA version of boxing’s “The Drunken Master” Emanuel Augustus. Get on YouTube and check out some Emanuel Augustus fights. No one in the history of the world moved like him. Broken cadences, misdirection, sleight of hand, feinting, angles, footwork like a Jabbawockee; Emanuel Augustus looked like he was dancing in the ring. Floyd Mayweather said Emanuel Augustus was the toughest fight of his career, and that fight was one of the rare occasions that someone was able to hit Floyd consistently in a fight. Little history lesson.
Where a fighter like Dominick Cruz will use a handful of memorized footwork patterns repeatedly, Jiri Prochazka uses improvisation and flows from one stance to another, from one attack to another, in any direction. Jiri is a natural striker from either stance and can switch and counter as he slides out of the pocket, using the opponent’s aggression against them.
Hand position can be a gift and a curse. Fundamental striking emphasizes keeping your hands up and is the universal foundation to build upon. But carrying the hands low can provide unique advantages, allowing a fighter to throw from angles that you can’t see coming. Prochazka keeps his hands at his waist and has a massive eighty-inch reach; his long punches generate a lot of power, and the odd angles allow him to navigate them around the opponent’s guard. Pay attention when Prochazka plays with his gloves. At first, I thought it was a weird tick or something, but it’s not. It looks like he’s adjusting his gloves, but he uses it as a distraction and will quickly strike when he’s doing it.
Jiri’s hand position also gets him into trouble defensively. He has excellent footwork and head movement, rolling off of punches and pivoting off at angles when the opponent engages, but he also gets hit a lot because he doesn’t use a hand guard at all. In his debut against Volkan Oezdemir, Prochazka got into trouble in the first round. Oezdemir caught Prochazka hanging out in the pocket with his hands down, and Prochazka ate a big punch but survived and went on to win via KO.
Jiri is riding a twelve-fight winning streak that included winning the Rizin light heavyweight world title. He’s only 2-0 in the UFC and is coming off one of the filthiest spinning back elbow KO’s you’ll ever see. Against Dominick Reyes, Jiri came out looking like a Yankee Candle; his hair tied in a tight vertical ponytail and got into a hell of a firefight. It was far from a flawless victory for Jiri, and Reyes had Jiri hurt multiple times, but overall, Jiri battered Reyes before shutting his lights off like the power company.
The key for Jiri will be dominating range with long distance strikes and staying off the cage. He has to control the open mat and not allow Glover to trap him against the cage and get hold of him. Jiri needs an early finish, or it will only be a matter of time before Glover drags him to the mat. I can’t imagine Jiri getting back up if Glover gets him down, especially early.
Glover Teixeira at plus money. Glover is coming in as the disrespectful (+170) dog. Other than Darrick Lewis, nobody is a more valuable underdog than Glover. This fight is as simple as can Glover get hold of Prochazka? If he can, he’ll choke Prochazka out in the first two rounds. If, for any reason, Glover can’t get Jiri to the mat, Jiri wins the belt by TKO/KO within the first two rounds. Both of these guys are finishers. Prochazka is 28-3 with twenty-five TKO/KO’s and two subs. Glover is 33-7 with eighteen TKO/KO’s and ten subs.
Last week, Alexander Volkov put the brakes on the main event-losing streak. I’ll forever be grateful. I’ve been thinking about this fight for months and still have no idea who wins. When you find yourself at the YMCA standing on the high dive looking down, there’s only one thing to do, take the plunge. Glover Teixeira, via rear-naked choke, round two.
Winner: Glover Teixeira | Method: Rear-Naked Choke Rd.2