3 keys to victory for Alex Pereira and Jiri Prochazka at UFC 303

Here's what both fighters need to do if they hope to have their hands raised at UFC 303.
UFC 295: Prochazka v Pereira
UFC 295: Prochazka v Pereira / Sarah Stier/GettyImages

The rematch between light heavyweight champion Alex Pereira and Jiří Procházka is an intriguing main event for UFC 303. Both are stepping in on short notice to save the fight card after the UFC's biggest superstar, Conor McGregor, injured himself as he prepared for a massive return.

This will be a rematch from the vacant light heavyweight title fight at UFC 295 at Madison Square Garden. It was competitive until the controversial stoppage as Pereira dropped Procházka with a left hand, leading to a failed takedown, and hard elbows being landed on the head. Procházka's body became weak as he fell to the ground, leading the referee to step in to stop the fight. Some said it was a bad stoppage, as fighters in worse positions were allowed to continue fighting. Other people said it was a fair stoppage, as Procházka's body looked weak on the floor, and it was best to let him avoid taking worse damage.

After that battle, both Pereira and Procházka competed at UFC 300 in Las Vegas, where both won on the same night with spectacular knockouts. Pereira defended his title by knocking out Jamahal Hill in the first round, while Procházka got back to winning by getting a second round stoppage of Aleksandar Rakić. Both fighters can win the rematch and have solid keys to victory.

Alex Pereira's UFC 303 keys to victory

Pereira has some of the best calf kicks, if not the best, in the UFC right now. He has a unique style where he kicks with no telegraph without moving his hips. That makes the kicks impossible to see coming and check, leading them to damage opponents. Procházka stands heavy on his lead legs, making it impossible for him to check leg kicks. Rakić was beating Procházka until he got stopped, and a major part of him winning on points was his success with calf kicks. In the first fight, Pereira was able to set up his famous left hook by using his calf kicks. He damaged Procházka's legs so bad, he began to overextend his punches, leading him to eventually get caught. If Pereira uses his calf kicks properly, he can win again.

Distance management is a good tool Pereira uses well to pick his shots right with accuracy. He will need to find the right power shots to knock out a hittable fighter like Procházka. Distance management is important for offense, but it is also just as important for defense. Procházka is such an unorthodox, chaotic fighter who is known for throwing attacks from different angles such as flying knees, front kicks, and spinning elbows. Pereira must manage his distance, so Procházka's super attacks cannot land clean and Pereira can instead focus on landing his own attacks.

Pereira's opponent can be hittable, but he can recover well. In some of his biggest victories against Volkan Oezdemir, Dominic Reyes, and champion Glover Teixeira, he was rocked bad but recovered well enough to finish them all. If Procházka gets wobbled, Pereira cannot let him off the hook, and he has to remain on the gas to find a finish.

Jiří Procházka's UFC 303 keys to victory

Prochazka has decent grappling, though he does not use it a lot. He won the title at one point in June 2022 at UFC 275 by submitting then-champion Teixeira, who is now Pereira's main coach. Teixeira is a high level grappler and BJJ artist who had never been submitted in his two decades of MMA until that point. That means Procházka's grappling should not be underestimated. Prochazka taking down Pereira in the first round was a major part of him winning that round. He got decent ground strikes in, though not damaging, until Pereira found his way up. Procházka's best bet at winning would be mixing up his striking by involving grappling. He may actually be more favored getting a finish on the ground than on the stand-up. Procházka can go further with his grappling to have better success by ground striking better to do damage while being stronger in holding Pereira down in order to find a submission.

Procházka is a good fighter, but he has a bad habit that gets him in trouble in fights that risk him losing. He has no striking defense, as he always leaves his hands down, and he lacks head movement. Yes, he can recover well, but it may not always pay off in the end. Procházka's bad defense nearly cost him the title against Teixeira until Teixeira's poor fight IQ caused him to pull guard, allowing Procházka to recover and find a lucky finish. His bad defense got him caught by Pereira, leading to a controversial stoppage. If the referee let the fight continue, could Procházka recover and find a comeback victory? He could have, but we cannot know if he would have at the time. It is best if Procházka is defensively responsible to avoid any close losses or controversial stoppages. He can work on a high guard or elite head movement to help his defense.

Pereira should not be given an inch, as he thrives off distance. In other words, the distance must be closed to have success with Pereira. Procházka can pressure and be in Pereira's face, leading to him getting the better of the stand-up and decreasing the success of Pereira's distance management. In the first fight, he was having success landing shots on Pereira against the cage before the stoppage. This can lead to Procházka executing one of his main victory keys of grappling. He must be smart defensively as he pressures, though.