If it not for T.J. Dillashaw, Jiří Procházka may have continued to fight and potentially retained his UFC light heavyweight title at UFC 282.
However, Procházka ultimately decided to vacate the title due to a shoulder injury, pulling out of his scheduled rematch with Glover Teixeira and stepping down as champion.
‘Denisa’ initially considered fighting despite his injury, believing he could finish the fight quickly. However, he decided to relinquish the belt and prioritize his health, citing TJ’s injury TKO loss to Aljamain Sterling as influential in his decision.
“[I was] still thinking about that I had to go to the fight, because I believe that I can solve it — I can solve the fight [despite my injury],” Procházka told Ariel Helwani during a recent appearance on The MMA Hour (h/t Steven Marrocco of MMA Fighting). “I can end it in the first or second round. To not be there longer than is necessary. But everybody knows the story about T.J. Dillashaw [at UFC 280]. So I want to be professional, and I want to be humble to my team around me, to the UFC, and to my opponent.”
In Procházka’s absence, Magomed Ankalaev and Jan Blachowicz fought for the vacant light heavyweight title, with the fight ending in a split draw. The title is now vacant once again, and Procházka believes that is a sign that the universe is on his side.
“What do I have to say to that? Everybody knows, and I don’t want to say everything is playing for me, like everything’s showing that I’m the champion,” he said. “I don’t want to talk about that, because I released the title, and I am focused on the next steps and take the title back. Doesn’t matter.”
As for the injury itself, Prochazka takes full responsibility, citing a lack of focus in the gym. However, he hinted that his training partner, who is also a teammate of Ankalaev, may have exacerbated the injury by attempting to put his shoulder back in place.
“Everything was light, nobody did something wrong, but I did a mistake,” Procházka said. “I let the guy take my back. He did a suplex right on my shoulder. That was that. The shoulder was out, and one guy, he put me that shoulder back — one of the Russian guys from Ankalaev’s team. And after that, we went to the hospital.”
“Nobody did something wrong — it was just my mistake,” he added. “I was not focused, so it was my fault.”
Procházka is expected to be out of action for 8-9 months, but he believes he will be able to return to fighting earlier, possibly in early 2023.
“A lot of people are saying it’s necessary to keep it eight, nine months, but I know my body, and I believe I can fix it in three or four months to the full power,” he said. “There is nothing in my life ... where something is not possible. If I take it like a target, I will work on it 24 hours, day and night. Doesn’t matter.
“I believe there is in mankind, a power that we can use, with all the humility and all the power, just believe it. I will be back as soon as possible, stronger than ever.”
While Procházka is out of action, Glover Teixeira and Jamahal Hill will face off to determine the next light heavyweight champion at UFC 283 in Brazil. The PPV is scheduled to take place next month, Jan. 21, at the Jeunesse Arena in Rio de Janeiro.