Glover Teixeira was 28 seconds away from retaining his UFC light heavyweight crown when he tapped to the rear-naked choke that Jiri Prochazka applied in the waning moments of their main event bout at UFC 275. Not long after Prochazka took possession of the belt, Teixeira asked for a rematch. There does not need to be a rematch — at least not an immediate rematch.
Opinions on the fight were overwhelmingly positive. UFC welterweight champ Kamaru Usman called it a “tremendous fight.” Former two-division UFC champ Henry Cejudo called it a “Fight of the Year candidate.” UFC heavyweight Tanner Boser declared the bout, “one of the greatest title fights of all time.” With a few days to absorb what took place during the 24:32 the bout lasted, it’s hard to find fault with any of those takes.
With that, a rematch would seem to make sense. Right? Wrong.
What we witnessed from the 42-year-old Teixeira at UFC 275 was the apex of his abilities. He took everything his younger, more athletic and more powerful opponent offered and kept moving forward — to a point.
As the fight progressed, Teixeira’s energy reserves, perhaps from a bad weight cut, but more likely because of the nature of the fight he was involved in, were exhausted. That’s not something Teixeira is going to rectify in a rematch, not at his age and not after Prochazka addresses his shortcomings and failings.
While Teixeira was seemingly at the height of his powers in his past two outings, the same cannot be said of his 29-year-old opponent. Prochazka was criticized online for his fight IQ and his decision making at UFC 275. His assessment of his performance was direct and honest.
“From my side it was a horrible fight, horrible performance,” he said. “Honestly. You saw that fight. I just survived some moments. It’s my plan to be dominant and not just to be a survivor in there. For you it’s beautiful because you like to be entertained, but for a fighter, I like to fight clean.”
“I was a little bit lazy to set up some situations and to prepare him for the knockout, to watch in the striking,” Prochazka continued. “To see him, to see the moments, to see the right place, and catch it. That was my laziness in the fight.
“He didn’t surprise me with nothing. We knew all these things, and he was successful in there. So I have to work on that. Not just work on the training, but work on myself to stop doing things. I know where is the mistakes in my preparation, in my life, and what I have to change for the fight.”
We will see improved versions of Prochazka in the future and probably not just incrementally better. He has gaps to close, and he knows it. If Prochazka wants to remain champion, he will address those faults. We have seen the best of Teixeira.
That’s not to say Teixeira is spent or to take anything away from his achievements. His run since losing to Corey Anderson in 2018 was magnificent. Winning the title in his 40th professional fight was a momentous achievement, but getting back to the top of the 205-pound division is not in the cards for Teixeira.
A rematch with a more prepared and improved Prochazka will not go well for Teixeira. I say let us have Teixeira’s win over Jan Blachowicz and his possible 2022 “Fight of the Year” opposite Prochazka as the memories we have of the closing years of a career well spent and a dream realized for Glover Teixeira.