UFC 275 takeaways: Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira made the light heavyweight division great again

Joanna Jedrzejczyk

Jiri Prochazka is the new UFC light heavyweight champion. The dazzling Czech snatched victory from the jaws of defeat on Saturday in the main event of UFC 275, dispatching Glover Teixeira with a fifth-round Hail Mary choke to finish one of the wildest brawls of 2022. Prochazka was the star of an exciting night that also featured Valentina Schevchenko surviving her closest challenge, retire a legend and Zhang Weili HTML5_. With so much to discuss, let’s hit our four(ish) biggest takeaways from UFC 275.

1. Twenty-eight seconds. Repeat it again because it bears repeating: Just 28 seconds. Glover Teixeira was 28 seconds from keeping his storybook ending alive.

Stare at that number and mull it over. There is a very small margin between regret and history.

Hours later, it’s still wild to consider that a 42-year-old Teixeira came closer at UFC 275 than any UFC titleholder ever has to defending his belt without actually crossing the finish line. Instead, the Czech Republic crowned its first UFC champion, the light heavyweight division crowned its new samurai king, and the MMA world crowned its new “Fight of the Year” front-runner. You could talk me into “Submission Of The Year.” )

Some fights can be recapped by two sentences, others need an entire 10-episode Netflix arc. Prochazka and Teixeira are the best examples of this latter. The heart. The pace. Near finishes. Surprising displays of strength within each other’s areas of expertise. You can count on one hand the number of bouts in the UFC archives that had as many sudden swings in momentum as UFC 275’s main event. The UFC’s second-latest champion finish was the perfect finishing touch. A stroke of desperate brilliance from a non-grappler to author the light heavyweight division’s own Silva-Sonnen moment? Drama of the highest order. Not since Jones-Gustafsson 1 has a championship fight at 205 pounds been so compelling.

Will you be a part of the JiriProchazka era? Who knows how long this madness will last, but it’s guaranteed to be a ride to remember.

The UFC’s glamour division was once the light heavyweight. Somewhere along the way, that stopped being the case — it’s still not even true after UFC 275’s theatrics. But the fun has returned to 205 pounds in a way that’s been absent since the glory days of Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz and Quinton Jackson. Jon Jones’ dominance was special in its own right, but sometimes there’s a magic that comes with watching a handful of flawed contenders pass around the belt like a violent game of hot potato, especially when one of those contenders is channeling once-in-a-generation lunatic vibes like Prochazka.

The man isn’t even 24 hours into his title reign and he’s already rivaling Charles Oliveira as the most exciting UFC champion on a minute-per-minute basis. How can you not love it?

1b. As much as it hurts me to say, looking ahead, two things are likely true after UFC 275.

First, it’s very likely Prochazka is only keeping the belt warm for Magomed Ankalaev, the Dagestani terror who has all the makings of the division’s next long-reigning (if markedly less exciting) champion.

Second: It’s very possible that the Prochazka era will end, given the coin flip style in which the new champ approach fights.

So for now, I’m just enjoying this thrill ride for as long as it lasts. Prochazka is the spiritual successor to Tony Ferguson I’ve been waiting for and it’s fantastic.

Book a rematch immediately with Teixeira, or let me give you the guarantee delight of Prochazka against Blachowicz at a European stadium concert and we’ll keep the good times rolling.

2. UFC 275’s co-main event gave us a timely reminder of why runs like Anderson Silva’s, Georges St-Pierre’s, and Demetrious Johnson’s are so celebrated — and so rare.

For even the most seasoned UFC fighters, Saturday’s events are inevitable. If you stay on the top of the mountain long enough everyone will eventually fall into bad habits. When the target is on your chest for years on end, surprises are going to pop up, and there are going to be challengers who make you feel stuck in the mud and unable to get out of first gear. The ability to manage those night when your fastball goes down is the difference between the Very Good Champions and the All-Time Greats. For Silva, it was Sonnen. Johny Hendricks was Johny for St-Pierre. For Johnson, it was Tim Elliott. They all dealt with it.

Valentina Schevchenko had her first experience with Taila Santos.

It took a mighty effort — as well as a fortuitous clash of heads — for the UFC’s flyweight queen to get past Santos at UFC 275. It’s sometimes better to have luck than to be good. Shevchenko and Santos were both in the championship rounds. Realistically, “Bullet” got away with just one. (According to her, a foot injury may have played a part in the listless performance as well. )

Shevchenko is still the proud owner of UFC’s most successful title defenses — she also has many intriguing possibilities. Santos, 28, is young and talented and will continue to hang around the title picture for the foreseeable future. It would be a simple sell to have a rematch. If Miesha Tate gets past Lauren Murphy — and that’s a big “if” — that’s another high-profile fight for the belt. And even if Tate falls to Murphy, UFC president Dana White has spoken openly of finally giving Shevchenko the chance to pursue two-division glory.

I would prefer to go with the third option, but whatever direction UFC takes, this will be one of the best Shevchenko leads-ups we have seen in quite some while.

3. Joanna Jedrzejczyk has nothing to apologize for.

The original boogeywoman of 115 pounds announced her MMA retirement on Saturday in an emotional scene following a brutal knockout loss to Zhang Weili.

Champion. Hall of Famer. Legend. A member of the All-Violence first team. One of the greatest fighters of her era. Regardless of what you want to call her, Jedrzejczyk deserves to be celebrated. Newer fans to MMA may struggle to fully grasp her importance because of her late-career setbacks, but Jedrzejczyk’s run of five title defenses as champion from 2015-17 is still the standard by which all strawweight title reigns are judged — as well as the catalyst that helped establish 115 pounds as the marquee division of the women’s ranks.

Carla Esparza may have been strawweight’s inaugural champion, but Jedrzejczyk was its first real attraction. From the moment she showed up in Dallas for UFC 185 dripping equal parts confidence, ferocity, and swagger, it was obvious Jedrzejczyk would be special. And she held up her end of the bargain. Even her faceoffs were more entertaining than some athletes’ fights. Once the game chewed her up and spit her out, she remained must-see television. Hell, in her penultimate outing, she was one half of the one of the greatest fights of all-time — a fight she probably should’ve won. There isn’t a soul alive who watched UFC 248 who will ever forget the feeling coursing through their veins as Joanna Champion willed herself to a near-victory with an alien sprouting out three feet out of her forehead.

Jedrzejczyk, despite all of this, was still your favorite fighter. If you are unsure, take a look at all the adoration that she received in response to her retirement announcement.

Very few people are as beloved in this game.

Joanna, thank you for your support. You’ll be a Hall of Famer by the end of 2024, knowing how the UFC operates. You’ll get it well-deserved and the House will be filled with admiration.


Joanna Jedrzejczyk after capturing her first UFC title.
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

3b. I’d also like to wish an early congratulations on your second UFC title reign, Zhang Weili, as I suspect it won’t be long now before the belt is back around your waist.

I also suspect you may be one of the biggest betting favorites as a challenger for a championship fight in UFC history once the Carla Esparza matchup is official.

4. It’d be a crime if we skipped over Jake Matthews before we got out of here, because my word, y’all — the Australian welterweight may not have been a talking point heading into UFC 275, but he certainly ensured he’d get a mention on his way out the door.

Matthews’ second round knockout of Andre Fialho in the second round was a performance that we will remember for years to come. To a lesser extent, think of Rafael dos Anjos punching out Benson Henderson, or Charles Oliveira submitting Kevin Lee — the type of statement performance that can rewrite narratives and portend good things to come for a prospect we thought we already had figured out. Matthews was a leveller on Saturday. You never know when (or if) it’s going to happen, but it’s happened for him.

Matthews was a baby when he debuted in the UFC in 2013. When he first showed up on TUF Nations: Canada vs. Australia, he was 19 years old — nothing but gangly arms and legs and untapped potential. He grew up literally under the UFC’s bright lights. On Saturday, however? He wasn’t the same kid we’ve seen in his past 15 fights. He was mean and fast, powerful, a full-grown 27-year-old man seizing his moment with a savagery unknown before.

It is amazing to see the switches flip over night when someone suddenly becomes the person they are meant to be. The UFC has stuck with Matthews through his ups and downs for more than the past eight years — it feels as if that patience is finally about to be rewarded.

Just don’t be surprised if we see an RDA-esque rise to title contention out of “The Celtic Kid” before his story is done.