From hooligan to samurai to UFC title challenger

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Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira
Jiri Prochazka (proper) faces Glover Teixeira for the light-heavyweight title at UFC 275 in Singapore

Rising up, Jiri Prochazka lacked a objective.

Born within the Czech Republic, the UFC star misplaced his father at six years outdated, leaving him wanting authority figures.

He lived life by his personal guidelines, paying little consideration to recommendation from his mom or lecturers, earlier than finally turning into concerned in soccer hooliganism.

Preventing alongside fellow FC Zbrojovka Brno supporters, Prochazka was drawn to a way of group he thought hooliganism supplied, however he nonetheless lacked that deeper that means – till a e-book gifted to him by his MMA coach modified every thing.

“It was The E book of 5 Rings, and that was the samurai spirit and all these concepts round Japanese tradition,” Prochazka informed BBC Sport, earlier than his important occasion towards light-heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira at UFC 275 on Saturday.

“I took it on as my very own, and that was the primary factor of why I began to assume like that – to learn the philosophy and all these books round combating.

“Goal is an effective phrase. It modified my life as a result of like I mentioned I had no guidelines in my life after my father died, in order that’s why I used to be searching for some sturdy data and robust concepts I can hold in my life.”

After studying the e-book, Prochazka left soccer hooliganism behind, specializing in his journey as a samurai {and professional} MMA fighter.

‘A real motivation for all times’

Jiri Prochazka punching Dominick Reyes
Prochazka’s coiffure, which he calls ‘warfare hair’, pays tribute to Japanese samurai

Prochazka practices bushido – the ethical code adopted by samurai.

Samurai are historical Japanese warriors who helped govern the nation for lots of of years from the twelfth century.

In learning bushido, 29-year-old Prochazka adopted the instructing’s warrior mentality, studying to look inwards to find what’s in his thoughts and soul.

Prochazka is reserved when explaining extra about bushido, preferring individuals to analysis it themselves on the web if they’re curious.

He believes the world would profit from extra individuals training its teachings.

“I like after I can encourage anyone with this, as a result of it was useful for me and I do know will probably be useful for different individuals,” mentioned Prochazka.

“I do know many individuals are searching for a objective and what to imagine and a information – all this deep considering. From these questions there’s a true motivation for all times.”

Prochazka credit Bushido with reworking him into the fighter he’s right this moment.

With 11 finishes in 12 consecutive victories, he has developed a popularity as probably the most thrilling fighters within the sport, and on Saturday faces Brazil’s Teixeira for the light-heavyweight title in Singapore.

At 42 years outdated, Teixeira grew to become the oldest first-time champion in UFC historical past when he defeated Jan Blachowicz in October.

“It [bushido] is about giving every thing in my efficiency contained in the cage – that is all, nothing extra,” mentioned Prochazka.

“To do no matter it takes for a win, if it is necessary to die within the struggle for a victory, you need to do this.

“The whole lot is nice, every thing is ready. I had a face-off with Glover and I do know I am ready, he’s ready – however I can be higher.”

‘Shevchenko is nearly the right fighter’

Valentina Shevchenko
Valentina Shevchenko has held the UFC ladies’s flyweight title for nearly 4 years

Within the co-main occasion, ladies’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko defends her title towards Taila Santos.

Since defeating Joanna Jedrzejczyk for the title in 2018, the Kyrgyzstan-born fighter has developed into one of many UFC’s most dominant athletes.

The 34-year-old has defended her belt six occasions and is ranked first within the UFC’s ladies’s pound-for-pound rankings.

In Brazil’s Santos nonetheless, she faces an opponent on a four-fight profitable streak within the UFC with only one skilled defeat to her title.

Santos, 28, paid tribute to Shevchenkoexternal-link within the UFC’s pre-fight media conferences.

“She [Shevchenko] is about as shut as you will get to an ideal fighter,” mentioned Santos.

“However no one is ideal and there may be at all times room for enchancment – we’ve got positioned just a few issues we will work on and people flaws we’ve got discovered.

“I have been an underdog for many of my fights within the UFC and that is a superb factor – it would not matter for me as soon as we get in there.”

Will Jedrzejczyk’s return succeed?

On the undercard, Poland’s Jedrzejczyk returns to the octagon for the primary time in additional than two years when she faces Zhang Weili in a rematch of their exhilarating 2020 bout.

China’s Weili, 32, gained by cut up choice on that event to assert the UFC strawweight title in a bout many regard as one of the best ladies’s struggle in MMA historical past.

Jedrzejczyk has not fought since, however is returning within the hope of avenging defeat to cement her legacy as one of many best strawweights of all time.

In a two-year stretch between 2015 and 2017, the 34-year-old defended the title 5 occasions – probably the most within the division’s historical past.

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