UFC 303 paths to victory: How can Jiri Prochazka get revenge on Alex Pereira?

Alex Pereira and Jiri Prochazka are set to run things back.

This Saturday, Pereira and Prochazka rematch their UFC 295 light heavyweight title fight in the main event of UFC 303. The first time these two met, Pereira knocked Prochazka out in the second round to become the UFC’s ninth two-division champion. This time, the two meet on short-notice as they step in to save the day following Conor McGregor’s withdrawal from the event due to injury.

How will each man approach this fight, and how do they take home the win? Let’s take a look.

UFC 300: Pereira v Hill

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Paths to Victory for Alex Pereira at UFC 303

When these two first fought, I picked Pereira to win with relative ease because Prochazka’s offense, while potent, is not backed up by elite defense, meaning Pereira would have ample opportunity to counter. That’s less than ideal for Prochakza given that Pereira is one of the hardest punchers in the sport. And I was half right. Yes, Prochakza did walk headlong on to Pereira’s offense repeatedly, but what actually did him in was the low kicks.

Pereira is perhaps the best calf-kicker in MMA. He’s so adept at kicking the legs without any setup, making it extremely hard to read. And that’s especially bad for Prochakza who operates from a long stance with a lot of weight on the front foot. Aleksandar Rakic chopped the lead leg out from Prochakza, and was dominating the fight, until Prochazka went wild man on him and simply overran him with offense. That’s a much more difficult proposition against someone with the firepower and technique of Pereira.

What this means is that for Pereira, the path forward is simple: make this fight like the first one. Chop the front leg, defend takedowns, and clip Prochazka when he starts to get wild. On top of that, Pereira also should look to double jab, setting up the straight right hand. Because Prochakza fights with his hands down, his first instinct on defense is to slip and then slide back. The double jab with a follow up puts Prochakza in the tough spot of being at the end of his defense when the power shot comes in. Double jabs and calf kicks, that’s the name of the game on Saturday for Pereira.

UFC 300: Pereira v Hill

Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Paths to victory for Jiri Prochazka at UFC 303

Despite the fact that he got stopped in the first matchup, Prochakza enters Saturday saying he’s not going to change the gameplan. That seems like a bad idea. After all, the definition of crazy is doing the same thing and expecting different results.

In the first fight, Prochakza approached it in the same way he approaches most people, a little bit of everything. He shows Pereira a ton of different looks on the feet, scored one takedown, and even stunned Pereira in the second round with a barrage of long punches that “Poatan” didn’t see coming. It’s a smart way to fight most people: but Pereira is not most people.

Keeping opponents on their toes is usually a good strategy. The more they have to consider, the harder things get for them. Except in this circumstance, when Prochakza spent the second round consenting to a striking battle with Pereira, that was just playing to his opponent’s strength. Sure, you can win that way. But it’s wiser not to.

The simplest way to beat Pereira is to take him down. That almost entirely negates his offense, meaning Prochakza has the best chance to win the fight. And while Pereira is better than many believe at wrestling and grappling, Prochakza proved he can do it. His first plan of attack should always be getting this to the floor and once it’s there, it should be about control. Prochakza’s wild tendencies extend to the ground as well and that’s how Pereira stood up in the first fight. The focus should be getting Pereira down and then keeping him there. Let offense come afterwards.

Of course that doesn’t mean be afraid of Pereira’s striking. No fighter can win a fight if they just punt on one phase of the game entirely. Prochakza had a good amount of success on the feet using a ton of feints to keep Pereira off balance. Using plenty of that, plus more body work should be the focus in striking. Prochakza has a sneaky front kick to the body that would serve him well, and the body work should open up other opportunities both up top and into clinches, where Prochakza than then look to take things to the floor.


According to Prochakza, the biggest x-factor is Pereira’s use of “spiritual forces” to gain an unsporting advantage in the fight. But any good samurai should be able to negate the mystical powers deployed against him, so I’m calling that a wash. No, the x-factor in this fight is the short-notice.

Per most reports, Pereira was not originally keen on stepping in to save this event on just a few weeks’ notice, and was in fact in Australia at the time. Add in that he’s recovering/still dealing with some broken toes (coincidentally the same issue that led Conor McGregor to withdraw from the event) and it’s fair to wonder what version of Pereira will step into the cage on Saturday. No fighter competes at 100 percent, but is Poatan even at 75? We’ll see.

On the other side of things, Prochakza is also stepping in on short notice but rumor has it he was training like normal. If so, that’s definitely an advantage heading into this fight.

Could all of this be nothing? Of course! It’s rumor, speculation, and conjecture. But if Pereira shows up and can’t move as well or runs out of gas in the later rounds, everyone will look back and think we should have seen this coming.


Because of the short notice, I do believe this fight is closer than last time, but I’ll guess the same result happens. Prochakza has some tools to make things difficult, but his insistence that he’s not changing the plan and his odd obsession with Pereira’s “spiritual powers” makes me think “BJP” didn’t learn any real lessons from the first encounter. In that case, Prochakza is basically hoping to high-roll a knockout blow against Pereira, which could always happen, but the more likely outcome is another fight where Jiri runs headlong onto Pereira’s best weapons.

Alex Pereira def. Jiri Prochazka via knockout (punches) — 4:34, Round 3.


Who wins the rematch at UFC 303?

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