UFC 303: Alex Pereira rocks Jiří Procházka with head-kick KO to defend light heavyweight belt

Alex Pereira is starting to look like the UFC’s most unstoppable force, as Jiří Procházka can once again testify.

The UFC light heavyweight champion defended his belt against the former title-holder with a brutal leg kick to the head, getting the KO with a few more blows on the ground and leaving Procházka barely conscious after the fight was called.

It was a repeat of the ending of the first round, when Pereira leveled Procházka with a hard left with a good second remaining. Had there been more than a few seconds left, the fight would have been over then and there.

The two fighters entered the bout with some rather odd drama. In an interview the week of the fight, Procházka claimed Pereira received an unfair advantage through “magic,” or rather the champion’s pre-fight rituals which touch on his indigenous heritage.

He requested Pereira not use such rituals, which Pereira emphatically declined. It was with that history the two men, both known for their personal gravity, walked in and stared each other down for nearly five minutes before the fight.

It is now looking like 2024 will be remembered as Pereira’s year. He landed the main event at the promotion’s stacked UFC 300 card and lived up to the moment with a first-round knockout of Jamahal Hill, which would have been the moment of the night had it not been for Max Holloway going berserker.

In UFC 303, Pereira and Procházka stepped in on two-and-a-half weeks’ notice after Conor McGregor withdrew from the previously scheduled main event against Michael Chandler due to a broken pinky toe. No matter the outcome, Pereira would have received appreciation from UFC president Dana White. But to defend his belt in emphatic fashion against one of the most dangerous fighters in the division, that is stuff that makes you a higher sort of champion.

The question now is what’s next for Pereira, who has taken over a previously chaotic division with wins over three former champs in Procházka, Hill and Jan Blachowicz. He could still face Magomed Ankalaev who has a very good argument that he was robbed of the belt in a controversial draw with Blachowicz, but he also said through an interpreter he intends to move up to heavyweight, with a chance at becoming the UFC’s first three-division champion.

“I think that’s in my future. I said that the last time I was here. I said it a lot, there didn’t seem to be too much interest in the organization, but I’m here, I’m available and I do think that’s in my future.”

The fight ended one of the most logistically chaotic cards in UFC history, in which the co-main event had to be reworked four different times. The result of that fight was Diego Lopes defeating Dan Ige, who stepped in on four hours’ notice.

Here’s how every fight played out via Yahoo Sports:

LIVE COVERAGE IS OVER142 updates

  • RESULT: Alex Pereira def. Jiri Prochazka by TKO (head kick, punches) at 0:15 of R2

  • IT’S ALL OVER!! HEAD KICK KO FOR PEREIRA!!

  • Round 1

    Prochazka goes down at the buzzer from a huge left hook! He was saved by the bell and wobbled back to his corner.

  • Fight begins

    After a staredown that lasted nearly five minutes, the fight starts with a quick Pereira jab.

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