UFC takeaways: Prochazka has performed sufficient to earn title shot

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Jiri Prochazka has arrived. The native of the Republic of Georgia established himself as a official UFC gentle heavyweight contender Saturday night time by knocking out Dominick Reyes with a spinning elbow.

It was essentially the most spectacular efficiency on a card with a number of ranked fighters competing.

ESPN’s Ariel Helwani, Marc Raimondi and Jeff Wagenheim break down the most important storylines from Saturday’s Struggle Evening in Las Vegas.


Helwani: Prochazka’s subsequent combat must be for title

There is a new contender within the gentle heavyweight division, and he is a rattling entertaining one, too.

Jiří Procházka is a promoter’s dream: he’s distinctive, enjoyable, wild and highly effective.

He is additionally bought an awesome look — I imply, that hair is simply great — and he is now gained 12 in a row.

And what a method to prolong his UFC report to 2-0. His combat — or ought to I say brawl? — in opposition to Dominick Reyes on Saturday is one we’ll be speaking about in December throughout award season, for positive.

That spinning elbow KO, simply the third in UFC historical past, was as stunning because it was lovely. That first spherical was thrilling because it was brutal.

It was every part Procházka wanted to cement his spot as a legit participant in a wide-open gentle heavyweight division.

After all, we all know gentle heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz will defend his title in opposition to Glover Teixeira on Sept. 4. That is a performed deal.

So, the query now could be, do you save Procházka for the winner, or dare to match him up in opposition to somebody within the interim?

If he is down with it, I might save him. His type is just too wild, and that win was too nice to danger him in opposition to anybody else. There are actually choices on the market, like Aleksander Rakić or Anthony Smith, however I might hold Procházka on ice. Have him combat the winner of Blachowicz-Teixeira, replay this combat as many occasions as you possibly can and hope his hair appears to be like even higher when he fights for the belt.

And yeah, I do know the UFC does not normally give title pictures after two fights, however whenever you KO the likes of Volkan Oezdemir and Reyes like he has to this point, to say nothing of his pre-UFC success, you have performed sufficient.

As for Reyes, how are you going to not really feel for him? A bit over a yr in the past, he ought to have defeated the good Jon Jones to win the sunshine heavyweight title. As a substitute, the judges in Texas sided with Jones. Then, he will get knocked out by Blachowicz in his try and win the vacant 205-pound title, and now this.

The combat recreation is a merciless one. Someday you are a beforehand undefeated fighter dropping an oh-so-close determination to the best gentle heavyweight ever, and the subsequent you are on the receiving finish of a highlight-reel knockout in opposition to a surging star.


Raimondi: Giga Chikadze will get signature win with signature kick

In the course of the pandemic, it appeared like Giga Chikadze was preventing each few weeks. Chikadze stepped into the Octagon 5 occasions between September 2019 and November 2020 and gained each bout. He was 4-0 final yr alone. In his final bout, Chikadze lastly picked up his first end, a first-round TKO over Jamey Simmons final November.

All of these 5 have been good victories. However Chikadze was lacking one factor to make him a real featherweight contender: a signature win over a giant identify. The Republic of Georgia native has that now. Chikadze dispatched Cub Swanson, a featherweight stalwart, with a liver kick and punches Saturday in simply 63 seconds. Chikadze has nicknamed that physique kick the “Giga kick” from his time in Glory Kickboxing. And he used it to select up the most important win of his profession at UFC Struggle Evening: Reyes vs. Prochazka.

The one factor to do now could be give Chikadze a contender combat. He has gained six straight with two knockouts in a row. The karate black belt is a official power at 145 kilos — there is not any longer any doubt about that. I might like to see him in there with somebody like Calvin Kattar, Arnold Allen and even fellow prospect Bryce Mitchell subsequent.


Wagenheim: Merab Dvalishvili is making his transfer

Previous to the explosive knockouts in the primary occasion and co-main, this was an evening of choices, selections and extra selections — eight of them by the judges, and one by the referee who dominated a disqualification. That is not usually the type of combat card that will get the followers stirred up, however there truly have been some moments — top-of-the-line of them supplied by Merab Dvalishvili.

The bantamweight cost of trainers Ray Longo and Matt Serra is perpetual movement. In profitable his sixth straight bout, he threw 306 strikes, surpassing 100 in every of the final two rounds. That is a busy man. However as soon as once more his most important offensive weapon was his relentless pursuit of takedowns.

Dvalishvili landed 5 of 11 takedown makes an attempt, retaining Cody Stamann on the defensive the entire manner. That provides the native of the Republic of Georgia 59 takedowns within the UFC, essentially the most ever by a fighter of their first 10 UFC appearances. The factor is, Dvalishvili has had solely eight UFC fights. He has two extra Octagon journeys so as to add to his report complete.

Essentially the most important variety of all for Dvalishvili, although, is 5 — his variety of consecutive wins at bantamweight. That provides him the division’s second-longest lively streak, one behind his teammate Aljamain Sterling, the champ. At 30 years previous, Dvalishvili seems to be heading towards the highest of the load class. And he is making his journey entertaining to look at.