Former UFC light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka is keeping his eyes on the prize as he prepares to face a lethal striker in his Octagon return.
Prochazka has the chance to recapture the 205-pound title he never lost in the cage when he faces former middleweight champion Alex Pereira in the main event of UFC 295 in New York City.
The Czech’s return a one-year injury hiatus is one of the main storylines ahead of the event at Madison Square Garden, but despite the main event billing and the big city stage, Prochazka is keeping his mind on the job in hand.
“For me this week, laser focus,” he told reporters during media day.
“It’s about laser focus for the performance on the event night. It’s not just about me. It’s just about my opponent, too. Which performance and how good the performance of my opponent will be, that will be mine.
“Every time I adjust, and I am better every time than my opponents, trying to be in every moment. I like to have a good opponent, because my opponent’s performance pushes my performance.”
The matchup pits Prochazka’s unorthodox striking approach with the elite kickboxing skills of Pereira, with the former two-division Glory champion bidding to capture a UFC title in a second weight class.
“I see it (as) warrior against warrior,” he said.
“I don’t want to speak about my samurai character or something like that, but it’s (the) truth. I was inspired by Bushido and this type of focus for a fight and everything what you’re doing with your life, do it with all your focus, give all your heart to your performance. That’s why we’re warriors, because we go there and there is nothing like it.”
The light heavyweight championship picture remained unclear after Prochazka’s shoulder injury after UFC 275, but now he has the chance to bring things full circle by recapturing the belt and embarking on the title run he’d hoped for back in the summer of 2022.
“I realized that I’m not afraid that when I put the belt out to other guys, that I will not win that again after my recovery,” he said.
“That’s my belief, that I will take the belt again, and that’s it.
“The belt from last year I have in my room. I still see myself like a champion. But I need to remind all the people that I really am, because I need to keep it in the present.”