The top of the UFC light heavyweight division could be considered a good problem to have for the promotion. Jiri Prochazka, the 205-pound champion, is a fresh face at the top of a division where the belt has been changing hands fairly often ever since Jon Jones vacated the title held by either him or Daniel Cormier dating back to 2011.
It was Jan Blachowicz defeating Dominick Reyes for the vacant title in September 2020 and defending once against middleweight champion Israel Adesanya before Glover Teixeira and now Prochazka have had their turns at the top.
During this time, the division has seen the emergence of men who have yet to receive a crack at the title in Magomed Ankalaev and Aleksandar Rakic.
🚨| Jiri Prochazka has decided he wants to rematch Glover next.
He has made this decision clear by offering the rematch to the former champ in a video on his Instagram.
— The MMA Media (@The_MMA_Media) July 11, 2022
The next light heavyweight title fight will likely feature Prochazka versus Texeira in an immediate rematch, Ankalaev, or Blachowicz. The other two would likely compete in a title eliminator. While any combination of these make sense, here is a look at my personal favorite combination of the next match-ups:
Jiri Prochazka vs. Glover Teixeira 2
Simply put, this is the fight that the champion himself wants. If Prochazka has his way, his first title defense will be against the man he took it from. And why not? The first fight was an instant classic; a barn-burner that saw Prochazka do the unthinkable and submit Teixeira via rear naked choke with 28 seconds left in the fight.
Prochazka wants redemption against Teixeira, as in his own words, his golden performance was “bad.” That’s not what most fans believe, as this is a case of Prochazka being his own worst critic.
“I want to fight Glover the next fight,” Prochazka said in a video he posted on July 11. “Not because it will be another big fight, but just one reason: My performance was bad in the first fight. And I will show you why I’m the champion clearly, decisively. And I think Glover deserves it. So here’s the offer. I will show you why I’m the champion.”
Before the stoppage, it was a close fight where Teixeira was ahead on two of three judges’ scorecards heading into the fifth round. A 10-9 Prochazka fifth round would have resulted in a split draw. The fight was that close.
It’s what the champ wants, and Teixeira surely would not pass up the opportunity of an immediate rematch. And if the fight is as good as the first installment, fans are once again in for a treat.
— Jiri BJP Prochazka (@jiri_bjp) July 11, 2022
Magomed Ankalaev vs. Jan Blachowicz
Ankalaev is coming off a TKO win over former title challenger Anthony Smith. Smith suffered an apparent leg injury during the contest, and Ankalaev capitalized on it for a finish.
Blachowicz, the former light heavyweight champion, got back into the win column when Aleksandar Rakic suffered a torn ACL in his right knee during their main event bout in May. It was a close contest prior to the injury.
With Rakic on the shelf for the foreseeable future, Ankalaev vs. Blachowicz for the next title shot makes sense. Ankalaev is a surging contender who has not lost outside of a literal last-second submission against Paul Craig, while Blachowicz is the resurging veteran fighting at his peak. Whoever wins this contest undoubtedly deserves a title shot.
Other Fun Light Heavyweight Fights To Make
Jamahal Hill vs. Thiago Santos winner vs. Dominick Reyes
Volkan Oezdemir vs. Dustin Jacoby
Anthony Smith vs. Paul Craig
Nikita Krylov vs. Ryan Spann