UFC Ultimate Knockouts - Hispanic History Month (1) 2022Oct 4
Four reasons to watch UFC 275: Teixeira vs Prochazka on BT Sport
Two world titles will be on the line in Singapore this weekend at UFC 275, exclusively live on BT Sport. Here’s four reasons you don’t want to miss it.
Veteran icon Glover Teixeira will defend his 205lb strap for the first time against rising Czech star Jiri Prochazka while dominant 125lb queen Valentina Shevchenko takes on Talia Santos in the seventh defence of her championship reign.
With all that, plus so much more, coming your way from the Singapore Indoor Stadium, here are four reasons you don’t want to miss the action on Saturday night.
Good guy Glover
Glover Teixeira became the UFC’s oldest current reigning champion – and the second oldest in the promotion’s history – when he upset the odds to defeat Jan Blachowicz at UFC 267 last year.
The 42-year-old completed an incredible career renaissance with a signature rear-naked chokehold finish of the Pole in Abu Dhabi last October, finally winning the belt more than seven years after his first attempt against Jon Jones in 2014.
Despite Teixeira’s considerable pedigree in the 205lb division over the course of his storied 16-year career, there can’t have been many among the MMA landscape who could have predicted he would make it back to the top of tree at such a ripe age.
I want to prove myself
- Glover Teixeira
But Teixeira, who holds the record for the most finishes of all time in the UFC’s 205lb division, is quick to point out he’s not done yet.
Barely minutes after achieving the dream of a lifetime, Connecticut’s adopted son was already lining up his next opponent, promising to grant Jiri Prochazka the next opportunity at the belt.
“Jiri was there,” Glover told UFC.com of the Czech, who was cage-side as a backup for his world title fight at UFC 267.
“He cut the weight, he was there, I said ‘he's next in line, let's go’. I didn't care. He's good, he's the number one contender right now, and he was a very tough fighter, so yeah, I want to fight him.
“I want to prove myself, and I want to show that I fight everybody, and I'm gonna beat him and prove once again that everybody's wrong, and that's how I like to do things. Challenge myself and go after it.”
Despite his fiery ambitions, the wise old warrior knows Father Time will come knocking soon enough - and Teixeira has already begun plotting his dream ride off into the sunset.
“If there's a perfect scenario in life, I'm gonna defend this belt in Singapore, and I'd love to have one more fight in New York in November,” Teixeira added.
“I told Jan, he's number two and it looks like he's gonna fight for the title next because he fought Rakic and beat him, and now I can see that it's the perfect scenario. And then maybe retire.
“I gotta think about the kids, man! I can't be fighting all the time with those young guys.”
Victory would secure a seventh straight win for Teixeira in his first defence of the 205lb belt – can he write another chapter in the feel-good story of the last 12 months?
Pro-Czech ya neck!
Despite making just two appearances in the Octagon since joining the promotion, Jiri Prochazka stands on the cusp of conquering the light-heavyweight division with a burgeoning reputation as one of the UFC’s most entertaining fighters.
The Czech striker entered the UFC off the back of a dominant spell in Japan, conquering and defending the Rizin light heavyweight championship with wins over the likes of Muhammed Lawal and former UFC stalwarts Fabio Maldonado and CB Dollaway.
And he carried that winning form into his UFC debut, blitzing former 205lb title challenger Volkan Oezdemir in the second round after an exhilarating contest that saw the eccentric Prochazka eat his fair share of shots to get into range.
His exploits earned him a well-deserved performance bonus and a shot at another former title challenger in the shape of Dominick Reyes in May last year.
The 29-year-old duly delivered another explosive performance, walking Reyes down with reckless intent before ending the contest with a spectacular spinning elbow.
He’s a very tough opponent
- Jiri Prochazka
UFC bosses were sufficiently impressed enough to award Prochazka a pair of performance bonuses as well as the opportunity to be the back-up fighter for UFC 267’s light heavyweight world title showdown.
Although Prochazka was not needed on that night, he will have used the opportunity for an up-close analysis of his next opponent.
“He’s a very tough opponent,” Prochazka told the New York Post of Teixeira.
“He knows how to survive the hard moments, and he knows how to go step by step and keep the hard pressure in the fight.”
Bookmakers believe Prochazka will triumph in the Asian tropics this Saturday night, pricing “Denisa” as the 1/2 favourite over 17/10 Teixeira.
Will he deliver the goods in Singapore?
Can anyone stop Shevchenko?
Valentina Shevchenko can become a history-maker at UFC 275 with a win over Talia Santos that would see her complete the most successful title defences by a female champion in UFC history.
The Kyrgyzstani sensation is currently tied with Ronda Rousey on six but the 34-year-old is strongly fancied to extend her incredible winning streak in Singapore despite coming up against a dangerous challenger in Santos.
Shevchenko has every reason to be confident having not lost a fight to anyone other than Amanda Nunes since 2010.
And with three finishes in her last four fights, the imperious Shevchenko only looks to be improving – a chilling prospect for the rest of the flyweight division.
Renowned as one of the most skilled technicians in the entire promotion, “Bullet” has the highest accuracy for significant strikes in the history of the women’s flyweight division while she’s also second all-time among women’s flyweights for striking differential (+2.27).
All the stats suggest it could be a long night for Brazilian grappler Santos, whose best chance of victory appears to rest on her being able to drag Shevchenko into a dogfight on the canvas.
The 29-year-old challenger, who comes into the bout on the back of a four-fight win streak, is the all-time women’s flyweight leader for control time percentage (50.5%).
But Santos will make her Octagon walk on Saturday as one of the biggest underdogs on the card at 9/2 with the bookmakers – and with Shevchenko a heavy 1/6 favourite, it’s tough to see any other outcome than another masterclass from the champion.
When Zhang Weili and Joanna Jędrzejczyk last touched gloves inside the Octagon, they produced one of the greatest fights in UFC history.
Their historic war at UFC 248 more than two years ago was one of the last cards to be fought in front of a crowd before the Covid pandemic would shutter doors on venues across globe.
However, that single fight delivered more than enough action to keep fans satiated in the UFC’s short enforced absence with Weili and Jędrzejczyk throwing more than 750 strikes between them over the course of the strawweight title showdown.
The 115lb rivals will run it back on Saturday night – this time over three rounds instead of five – when they come face-to-face once again looking to pick up a vital win to get their title campaigns back on track.
Speaking to UFC.com about their iconic encounter last time out, Polish fan favourite Jędrzejczyk revealed she’s yet to watch the fight back in its entirety, even heading into a rematch with her Chinese foe.
2022 is going to be my best year
- Joanna Jedrzejczyk
“[My team] showed me some short clips and I know how to be better during sparring, do better, perform better and be ready,” she explained.
“I know where I made mistakes in our first fight with Weili Zhang, I trust my coaches and we all know Mike Brown and Katel Kubis' knowledge and they help so many athletes. They help the champions to become better and I trust them. But I haven't watched it.”
Former strawweight champion Jędrzejczyk comes into the fight having lost four of her last six appearances – but the 34-year-old believes she is ready and refreshed after more than two years out of competition since defeat to Weili.
“It's perfect because I feel so happy, and the enjoyment of training and preparation and excitement about my upcoming fight, it's like never before, so I needed that break,” the former Muay Thai world champion added.
“It's been two years, but I feel like I was gone out of competition for maybe six months. And the last fight between Carla [Esparza] and Rose [Namajunas] showed us that anything and everything is possible in the most unexpected moment, and history made a circle.
“I told myself before the end of 2021 that 2022 is going to be my best year - personal, sports, business-wise - and it's happening. It's hard - it cost me lots of effort, energy and hard work, but through hardship to the stars.
“I'm working really hard and I knew that I was going to be back and that I'm going to be the champ really soon, and I can't believe it's happening.”