Alex Pereira retains belt by defeating Jiri Prochazka by KO at UFC 303

LAS VEGAS — The legend of Poatan continues to grow.

Alex Pereira (11-2 MMA, 8-1 UFC) knocked out Jiri Prochazka (30-5-1 MMA, 4-2 UFC) in the second round with a devastating head kick and brutal follow-up strikes to retain his light heavyweight championship in the main event of UFC 303 at T-Mobile Arena.

The rematch between the two, which took place last November and in which Pereira won by TKO in the second round, came much earlier than expected, as the two were called up for the match on two weeks' notice after Conor McGregor was forced out of his headlining fight with Michael Chandler due to a broken toe.

Both fighters competed at UFC 300 and scored impressive knockout wins in their respective bouts, with Prochazka defeating Aleksandar Rakic ​​and Pereira defeating Jamahal Hill impressively in his title defense. Both came out with minor damage, but a pair of broken legs was the only obstacle standing in the way of Pereira accepting the fight.

As it turned out, those broken toes landed on Prochazka’s head in the rematch and the rivalry was over.

“I didn’t know how I was going to win, but I knew I was going to leave this Octagon happy,” Pereira said through an interpreter.

The fight was a striker's paradise in the early rounds, with Pereira landing leg kicks and Prochazka finding success with left hooks and using his awkward movement to create opportunities. But Prochazka played too close to the sun and was caught by Pereira's trademark left hook, sending him crashing to the canvas at the end of the round. Although he tried to pretend he wasn't hurt, Prochazka's legs said otherwise as he staggered to his corner.

Pereira smelled blood in the water and wasted little time getting the job done. He started the second round with a hard head kick that sent the Czech fighter crashing to the canvas again. But this time there was no bell to save him as Pereira’s follow-up strike finished the job just 13 seconds into the round.

What Pereira has accomplished in two years is nothing short of extraordinary. He captured the UFC middleweight championship by defeating Israel Adesanya just a year after his promotional debut, and then won the light heavyweight title a year later by defeating Prochazka.

Can Pereira win an unprecedented championship in a third weight class at heavyweight with another successful defense?

“I think it's in my future,” Pereira said. “I say that often. I'm here, I'm available and I think it's in my future.”

A fight with current heavyweight champion Jon Jones might be the biggest fight in the UFC right now, and it's clear that Pereira wants to continue doing the unthinkable during his impressive run. But Jones is scheduled to face Stipe Miocic later this year, so a fight with Pereira might have to wait.

At the moment, he has the MMA world in his grasp.

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