Madison Square Garden has seen so many events throughout its years. If that building could talk, oh, man, the stories it would tell.
For decades, it’s been the WWE‘s de facto home arena whenever a show’s been held in New York City and “The World’s Most Famous Arena” has played host to WrestleMania three times, most recently the landmark WrestleMania XX in 2004. It’s also been the host venue for so many noteworthy boxing matches, either in The Theater or the main hall, including Callum Walsh‘s fight this past Thursday.
MMA is a relatively new sport on Madison Square Garden’s calendar events, only holding its first UFC event seven years ago this month after New York State finally legalized the sport following a 19-year ban. With the legalization, professional MMA was permitted in every US state.
Since MMA was legalized in New York with the 113-25 vote in the spring of 2016, MSG has been an annual tour stop on the UFC’s calendar of events, with a gap year in 2020 thanks to COVID-19 safeguards preventing traditional arena shows from being held. The world’s top MMA promotion sets foot in The Garden once again this Saturday.
Vacant UFC Light Heavyweight Championship Up for Grabs Saturday in NYC
The second half of the UFC championship doubleheader sees light heavyweight supremacy at stake in the UFC 295 main event. No. 1 contender Jiri Prochazka (29-3-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) seeks to reclaim the championship he relinquished against No. 3 contender (and former GLORY Kickboxing Middleweight and Light Heavyweight Champion) Alex Pereira (8-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC).
With a championship at stake, the UFC 295 main event is an advertised maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round to close the show. Should Pereira claim the strap on Saturday night, he’d become the 17th different man, counting interim reigns, to hold the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship since it was introduced back in December of 1997.
— UFC (@ufc) November 8, 2023
UFC 295 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the UFC 295 main event on Saturday night, “Poatan” stands as the taller man at 6-foot-4, compared to Prochazka’s 6-foot-3 frame. Jiri Prochazka owns a one-inch reach advantage (80 inches to 79 inches) and leg reach advantage (45 inches to 44 inches) over Pereira.
As of Thursday afternoon, the oddsmakers have Alex Pereira installed as a -125 favorite, with Jiri Prochazka countering as a +105 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly. Check out MMASucka’s UFC 295 Betting Picks.
Jiri Prochazka Fires Shots Against Alex Pereira Before UFC 295 Main Event
Jiri Prochazka has posted a record of 5-0 in his last five fights as part of an ongoing 13-fight winning streak. It’s been a while since he’s been in the cage, though.
Last time out, he scored a fifth-round rear-naked choke submission of Glover Teixeira (33-9 MMA, 16-7 UFC) in June of 2022. After, the two were scheduled to rematch that December, but Prochazka was forced to withdraw from UFC 282 amid a shoulder injury.
“After that year from the injury I had, that was the only way which I saw that there was the way to improve myself,” Prochazka said, “to connect all these parts, like wrestling, grappling, ground and pound, and stand-up, not just make a difference between that. That’s why I think I’m a more complex fighter and I can attack Alex in every part of that. That makes me more dangerous, more unorthodox.”
“Poatan” Looks to Build Off July Win
In the other corner, Alex Pereira has gone 4-1 over his last five fights. Back on July 29, he battled Jan Blachowicz (29-10-1 MMA, 12-7-1 UFC) to a split decision, picking up the win.
“Well, it was a very hard fight, but I think I was able to show you guys a bit of my ground [game,] so be patient, my friends, because I’m going to be able to show it all soon,” Pereira said, through his translator. This is a man who’s already captured UFC gold at middleweight.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the UFC 295 main event looks to be another toss-up. Both men are stand-up fighters by trade, with Prochazka being a Muay-Thai practitioner and Pereira a kickboxer. Don’t expect the fight to go to the mat too often.
Prochazka Has Vicious Punches
During the first round of a scheduled three, Prochazka and Dollaway stalked one another until the latter moved in with a leg kick. Jiri Prochazka returned fire with a two-punch combination, including a left-handed shot, to knock Dollaway down and out in under two minutes.
Look for Jiri Prochazka to try and wobble Alex Pereira on Saturday night.
Look For Pereira to Unload a Flying Knee
In the other corner, Alex Pereira is adept at landing a flying knee. Jason Wilnis found this out the hard way at GLORY 65.
Although Wilnis’ gameplan was predicated on low kicks, Pereira went upstairs with a kick to the head, scoring a knockdown in the process. Wilnis somehow beat the referee’s 8-count, but wasn’t as lucky the second time around.
Right after the command to restart the fight, Pereira, now smelling blood in the water, connected on a vicious flying knee to send Wilnis down for good.
Even though the main event is a light heavyweight affair, it stands to reason that the rule from heavyweight fights could go into effect here: One shot could spell the end of the evening. Don’t blink or you might miss it.
Prediction: Alex Pereira by Unanimous Decision.