Jiří Procházka, Glover Teixeira, and the UFC have all commented on the recent changes made to the UFC 282 main event.
The MMA world was left stunned by the recent announcement that Procházka, who was set to defend his light heavyweight title in a rematch against Texeira at UFC 282, had severely injured his shoulder and decided to vacate the belt rather than hold up the division during his recovery period.
The decision from Procházka was an unexpected and arguably unprecedented move, as the UFC typically elects to create interim titles in situations where a champion will be unable to defend their belt for a lengthy period.
Teixeira received an offer to remain in the UFC 282 main event in a matchup with Magomed Ankalaev for the now-vacant title, which the Brazilian turned down. Ankalaev will now face his originally scheduled UFC 282 opponent Jan Blachowicz for the vacant title in the card’s main event.
UFC Releases Official Statement
The news understandably drew a wide range of reactions online, and the significance of the change required the UFC to make an official statement explaining the situation.
“The UFC has released an official statement regarding UFC 282. Blachowicz vs. Blachowicz. Ankalaev for the undisputed light heavyweight championship is the new main event. Jiri will compete for the title once it is medically cleared. Glover is not even mentioned in the release.”
As Aaron Bronsteter notes, one interesting detail of the press release is that there’s no mention of Teixeira. Instead, the primary focus appears to be on detailing Procházka’s injury and decision to vacate the belt while also trying to legitimize the new title fight between Blachowicz and Ankalaev.
Procházka Apologizes to Fans
Given that he was the centerpiece of the news, it was no surprise when Procházka made a post on Instagram explaining the situation and his future plans after recovering from his injury.
“I am very disappointed to announce that I will not be defending my belt at @ufc 282. I was injured in training in Las Vegas while finishing my preparation for my title defense in the UFC’s lightheavyweight division. I injured my shoulder and surgery is required which will put me out of action for at least 6 months. Knowing this information, I have decided, after consulting with UFC management, that due to this time constraint, I will not hold the light heavyweight division and will vacate the title. I will go for the UFC belt as soon as the doctors give me the green light to fight. I’m going to go for the belt and I’m going to get it no matter who currently holds it.
“It’s always been the most important thing for me to put on the best performance and compare myself to the best. Let the best show no matter who’s there now. I’ll be back in six months and I’ll take the title whoever holds it. I apologize to my fans, friends, family who bought tickets and made plans to come to Las Vegas to support me, it means a lot to me. I also want to apologize to Glover. Victory!”
The fact that “Denisa” specifies a time period of “at least six months” for his recovery is significant, both in regard to the UFC’s press release and the Czech fighter’s own decision to vacate the belt.
A sixth-month layoff would be far from unheard of for a champion to wait in between title defenses, even without any sort of significant injury.
Had Procházka not made the decision to vacate the title himself, there’s a good chance the UFC would have simply created an interim title fight to headline UFC 282.
Teixeira was open to fighting Blachowicz
Texeira certainly seems to be the one left out in the cold by this whole situation, and in an interview with ESPN the former champion indicated he would have accepted a fight with Blachowicz if it had been offered to him.
“I told them I needed more time for this guy, that he has a different style,” Teixeira explained. “[Ankalaev] guy is a southpaw. I said, ‘What about fighting him in Brazil?’ They denied that and said they needed someone to fight in Vegas. I said, ‘OK, I’ll fight Jan.’ [Błachowicz] inVegas. If you’re going to throw me off, Jan has a regular stance. Ankalaev is totally different game. I need more time.”
The 43-year-old is already plenty familiar with Blachowicz after defeating him at UFC 267 last year to claim the light heavyweight title. Even though Ankalaev is a younger fighter currently riding a nine-fight win streak, Teixeira told Super Lutas (h/t Bloody Elbow) that a rematch with Blachowicz would have been in the UFC’s best interests for salvaging UFC 282.
“I felt a little disrespected. Given everything I’ve done for this company. I’m a bit sad about this whole situation. Why wouldn’t they let me fight Jan? It’s two old timers fighting again, but it would sell more than this Ankalaev fight. We’re two heavy-hitters. It would sell more for sure, no disrespect to Ankalaev. He’s just not that well-known here in America. Maybe he is in Russia, I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t understand these things that they do.
What are your thoughts on the comments from Procházka, Teixeira, and the UFC regarding the changes to the UFC 282 main event?