Jiří Procházka: The Unpredictable Czech Phenom

November 15, 2023
5 months

Jiří Procházka is on his way back after injury, but a delay in his arrival could change the lineup at the Octagon. Is Procházka doing too much too soon or not enough soon enough? 

Jiří Procházka is a 30-year-old Czech pro-MMA fighter who competes in Muay Thai style in the Light Heavyweight division in the UFC and a former champion who has taken time off from competing due to injury. 

He was born in the South Moravian Region of the Czech Republic in 1992, not long after the fall of the Communist regime. Procházka says he was introduced to mixed martial arts by a friend who showed him videos of kickboxer Ramon Dekkers and mixed martial artists Mirko Filipovic and Fedor Emelianenko. 

He says, ‘The movie Never Back Down inspired me to start training in martial arts, specifically Thai boxing.’ From a street fighter to a professional MMA fighter takes time, but a successful comeback from injury takes more than time; it takes focus and dedication, which Procházka has in spades.

Procházka is nicknamed Denisa but he is no patsy. According to the Urban Dictionary, Denise is headstrong, sturdy, and unrelenting. Resourceful and a fighter, Denise or Denisa never ceases to amaze, and apart from the fact Denisa is a woman’s name, the rest is spot on.

What Happened to Procházka?

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After suffering what some say is the ‘worst shoulder injury in MMA history,’ Procházka pulled out of a title defense fight against Glover Teixeira last December’s UFC 282. This devastating shoulder injury sustained during training has left Procházka looking at a long road back without an end in sight.

Denisa, the strangely nicknamed fighter, opted to hand back his belt so the division wouldn’t be held up. Top fighter Jamahal Hill recently claimed the title, beating Glover Teixeira in Brazil. Procházka is moving back to the USA to continue his rehabilitation and hopes to make his comeback by the holiday season.

Speculation says Denisa is training to beat Hill, and UFC’s Dana White has promised to allow Procházka the chance to get his own back, but Hill waits for no man or Denisa to come to that.

Denisa Goes Back to Go Forward

After many years of fighting MMA, Procházka signed with the UFC in 2020, just before the pandemic outbreak. Denisa made his promotional debut against Volkan Oezdemir in July 2020 during UFC 251. Procházka won via KO in round 2, winning a Performance of the Night bonus award.

In February 2021, Procházka was supposed to fight Dominick Reyes at UFC Fight Night 186. However, Reyes withdrew from the fight because of injury in late January, and the fight was rescheduled for May 2021. After a back-and-forth match, Procházka ultimately won via knockout again in the second round. As a result, he was given both the Performance of the Night and Fight of the Night bonuses.

It’s been a hard few years for Procházka, the first UFC champion from the Czech Republic, but the tide is turning, and Denisa is looking to the future after injury and rehabilitation. We genuinely hope that the future is bright for this talented fighter.

How Did Jiří Procházka get so Badly Injured?

Procházka doesn’t like talking about his injury; in fact, he’s unusually tight-lipped for a UFC fighter, but it seems the problem came ringside when an untrained person tried to help when Denisa suffered a suplex on the right shoulder. Shoulder subluxation occurs when the ball of the upper arm bone comes partly or fully out of its socket. 

In reality, an injury like this can take 8-9 months to repair, but Procházka has none of it. He insisted in a matter-of-fact fashion that he would be ‘Back in shape’ in three to four months. Realistically, Procházka, who has a fantastic mindset, cannot overcome nature. 

Surgery adds another few months to the rehab calendar, as anyone who has had shoulder surgery will tell you. No amount of mind over matter can help heal a wound like his. Only time will tell, and this year looks like a write-off.

What’s Next for Procházka? 

If all goes to plan, Procházka will likely fight Alex Pereira, nicknamed ‘Poatan.’ They are destined to fight for the vacant light heavyweight title. Procházka says this is a good fit and will be exciting for the fans. 

No matter what sport it is, an injured athlete is desperate to return to competing, but if you return too soon, you could prolong the injury. Procházka says he considered carrying on but was put off by T.J. Dillashaw’s cautionary tale.

During UFC 280, Dillashaw started the contest with an injured shoulder and then damaged his shoulder some more in the opening round. Between bouts, Dillashaw’s cornerman did his best to put the shoulder back in place, only to have it pulled out in round two.

After extensive surgery, there’s a question mark over Dillashaw’s return to competitive sport. It was this cautionary tale that made Procházka surrender his title. Had Dillashaw not taken the low road against all best advice, Procházka may have followed a similar path.


The Comeback

Procházka will make a comeback; after all, as the first champ from the Czech Republic, his nation’s pride is at stake. The question of a return is not if but when, and when shouldn’t be too soon if Procházka is to reach his full potential – in the meantime, there’s always knitting!

Knitting is a proven rehab technique for hands, wrists, arms, and shoulders, exercising the upper arm bone (humerus), the clavicle (collarbone), and the scapula (the shoulder blade). While knitting may not be manly enough for a UFC fighter, there’s always yoga, specifically the downward dog and the doorway stretch.

No matter what, one thing is for sure: Procházka will be getting the best rehabilitation American health insurance can buy, so it’s watch this space, and if he’s wearing a homemade tank top or bobble hat, that’s a bonus and a win for the Czech Republic, the UFC and wool based pursuits.