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There’s a new contender in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s light heavyweight division.
Jiri Prochazka staked his claim to a title shot in the UFC on ESPN 23 headliner, as he knocked out Dominick Reyes with a spinning back elbow 4:29 into Round 2 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas on Saturday night. After just the third KO/TKO stemming from a spinning back elbow in promotion history, Prochazka (28-3-1, 2-0 UFC) has finished 25 of his 28 career triumphs by knockout or technical knockout.
“I just want to show the beauty of the art, but sometimes I go very quickly for the win,” Prochazka said. “(As a result of) that, I catch some punches. Mistakes still, but I’m learning from fight to fight.”
A still-improving Prochazka is a scary prospect for the rest of the division, because the whirling dervish of offense he is now is already plenty dangerous. The former Rizin Fighting Federation took it to Reyes from the outset of the bout, rattling his foe with heavy punches on multiple occasions. Reyes held up well in a firefight, as he answered with counter left hands and kicks to body when Prochazka pressured him against the fence.
By the beginning of Round 2, it was apparent that Reyes’ already mangled nose was broken again, and Prochazka targeted the bloodied face of his foe repeatedly. Reyes had one last opportunity to turn the tide when he dazed Prochazka with a left that forced the Czech fighter to shoot for a takedown out of desperation. From there, Reyes locked in a guillotine, but Prochazka was able to pop his head free without issue and assume top position.
When Reyes scrambled back to his feet, Prochazka pursued his foe near the fence. Moments later, “Denisa” went over the top with a right elbow before spinning with his left elbow, a shot that connected clean and sent Reyes face first to the canvas.
“I just flow,” Prochazka said. “After some counter punches from Dominick, I have no chance to think. I just was in the flow.”
Chikadze Liver Kick Folds Swanson
Giga Chikadze finally has his signature UFC triumph.
The Georgian featherweight dispatched Cub Swanson in impressive fashion, winning via technical knockout 1:03 into the opening stanza of their co-main event matchup. A liver kick — which he calls the “Giga Kick” — folded Swanson (27-12, 12-8 UFC) instantly, and Chikadze landed four follow-up ground strikes on the defenseless World Extreme Cagefighting veteran before referee Jason Herzog stepped in to wave off the bout. The Kings MMA representative has finished his last two Octagon appearances after beginning his tenure with four straight decision triumphs.
“I knew (it was over),” Chikadze said. “That’s why I kind of stopped. Then the referee didn’t stop me, that’s why I had to do a couple (more) punches.”
After a 2020 in which Chikadze (13-2, 6-0 UFC) won four fights against a variety of journeymen and short-notice foes, the 33-year-old appears poised to make a serious move at 145 pounds. Chikdaze has now won six straight fights in UFC competition, tying him with Zabit Magomedsharipov for the third-longest active winning streak in the featherweight division.
“I have a ton of respect for Cub. It is what it is, I had to do it,” Chikadze said. “I had to tell all the Top 15 guys that I’m here. If you didn’t know my name, now you know.”
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Cutelaba, Jacoby Battle to Split Draw
A light heavyweight battle between Ion Cutelaba and Dustin Jacoby ended in a split draw after three competitive rounds. Rick Winter saw it 29-28 for Cutelaba, while Dave Hagen submitted a 29-28 tally for Jacoby. Meanwhile, Tony Weeks submitted a 28-28 scorecard.
Cutelaba (15-6-1, 4-5-1 UFC) mauled Jacoby (14-5-1, 2-2-1 UFC) in the opening stanza. The Moldovan fighter ragdolled his foe to the canvas repeatedly while landing heavy punches and elbows to the side of the head when Jacoby attempted to return to his feet. Cutelaba appeared to be on the verge of a finish, but Jacoby — with the help of a couple fence grabs — was able to make it until the end of Round 1. Weeks was the only judge to score that round 10-8 for Cutelaba.
With Cutelaba fading, the bout took on a different tone over the final 10 minutes. Jacoby denied most of his adversary’s takedowns while peppering Cutelaba’s face with punching combinations. “The Hulk” continued to move forward, and though he did land some heavy punches of his own, the pace and volume favored Jacoby, who ended the contest by landing a takedown.
Efficient Strickland Cruises vs. Jotko
Sean Strickland continued his remarkable comeback from a late 2018 motorcycle accident, winning his fourth straight bout with a unanimous decision triumph over Krzysztof Jotko at middleweight. The former King of the Cage title holder earned the nod from all three cageside scorers: 30-27, 30-27 and 29-28.
Strickland (23-3, 10-3 UFC) kept Jotko (22-5, 9-5 UFC) on his bicycle for the majority of the contest thanks to crisp straight punches, low kicks and consistent forward movement. “Tarzan” briefly had his Polish foe reeling after clipping his foe with a right hand in Round 1 and he bloodied Jotko’s nose over the course of the bout with a consistent stream of offense. Jotko occasionally found the range for a counter left hand and attempted several spinning attacks but otherwise rarely threatened Strickland.
Blistering Pace Propels Dvalishvili
Merab Dvalishvili continued his ascent through the bantamweight division with a hard-fought decision triumph against Cody Stamann in a featured bantamweight encounter. Cageside judges submitted scorecards of 30-27, 29-28, 29-28 — all for Dvalishvili, who has won six consecutive fights.
In a matchup of two wrestling-minded fighters, Dvalishvili had the better blend of skills and the more frenetic pace. The Serra-Longo Fight Team representative countered Stamann’s takedown shots with uppercuts and generally held the edge in takedowns and scrambles. Most notable was Dvalishvili’s (13-4, 6-2 UFC) improved standup, as he consistently tagged Stamann with jabs, straight right hands, uppercuts and a variety of kicks. While Stamann (19-4-1, 5-3-1 UFC) was able to secure top position on a few occasions, he simply couldn’t match the energy of his opponent for a full 15 minutes.
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