What happened the first time Alex Pereira and Jiri Procházka fought?

Alex Pereira vs. Jiri Procházka are doing a short notice rematch of their November 2023 fight.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Fight fans are privy to a spectacular rematch when Alex Pereira and Jiří Procházka clash in the marquee fight of UFC 303 on June 29. If you're unfamiliar with the pairing, they first fought at UFC 295 for the vacant light heavyweight belt in November 2023, with Pereira coming out on top. However, the result was marred by what many consider an early stoppage.

Before going toe-to-toe, Pereira and Procházka gave fans one of the most iconic in-cage staredowns in MMA history. The two strikers perfectly matched each other's energy, and fans knew they were in for a treat.

Round one was tentative, with Procházka prodding with leg kicks and Pereira circling the Octagon to find a good angle. Procházka's unpredictability and timing were causing problems for Pereira, as he feigned takedowns to land uppercuts and other unconventional strikes. Just over two minutes into the round, Pereira landed a thudding low kick that took Procházka off his feet—he followed up immediately after with another that grabbed Procházka's attention.

Procházka tried to impose his ground game by attempting a double-leg takedown, but Pereira snatched his neck up in a guillotine. The seasoned kickboxer had not shown this facet of his game until now, and Procházka narrowly escaped by locking his hands and dumping Pereira to the mat. From here, Procházka controlled the round. It was later revealed that all three judges scored round one for Procházka.

The tension was palpable in round two. Pereira apprehensively circled the cage as Procházka feinted takedowns to set up his strikes. A lazy jab from Pereira almost cost him the fight. Procházka winged a left hook over the top of his guard, doubled it up, and landed a clean overhand right that backed Pereira to the cage side. Procházka does his best work at the Octagon side, as evidenced by his demolition job of Dominick Reyes in 2021, and Pereira was almost a victim here as well.

Procházka walked straight into the fire, bobbing and weaving as he threw shot after shot at Pereira, who cautiously countered against the cage. Procházka appeared to stun his rival with a clubbing right hand, and he applied the pressure which would soon be his undoing. The two separated, and after some more tentative action, Procházka hurt Pereira again.

Procházka pursued his hurt foe to the cage side, but his hands-down fighting paid him no dividends as Pereira loaded up on a right-hand-left hook combo, which caught Procházka on the chin. The left hook lifted Procházka off his feet, and he reactively shot for a takedown. Pereira rained down clubbing elbows and hammerfists, and Procházka momentarily went limp. Referee Marc Goddard halted the action as Procházka's body tumbled backwards to the mat.

Watch the full fight between Alex Pereira vs. Jiri Procházka

With his victory, Pereira earned his second UFC title in seven appearances - an astonishing record in such a short time.

Procházka stood up and cleared the cobwebs immediately after the stoppage. He didn't dispute Goddard's officiating when he took to his socials later that night, explaining on Instagram, "Marc Goddard was right. Maybe two or three seconds, and it would be a different way, but what happened happened."

Regardless of the fighters' opinions, the decision to stop the fight was contentious, and fans swarmed online forums and social media to discuss it and the allure of a Pereira-Procházka rematch had not been lost.

Less than a year later, Pereira and Procházka are scheduled to fight each other again on two weeks' notice. UFC 303 was left in a precarious spot as Conor McGregor withdrew with an alleged injury, and the biggest fight Dana White and the UFC Brass could make was the rematch between Pereira and Procházka.

Both light heavyweights last fought on the same card at UFC 300 on April 13. Pereira starred in the marquee fight opposite Jamahal Hill, whom he knocked out with a left hook early in the first round to defend his belt for the first time. Procházka fought in the featured prelim against light heavyweight dark horse Aleksandar Rakic. Rakic looked stellar on the feet, repeatedly tagging Procházka with his boxing and especially his low kicks.

Procházka weathered the storm with reckless abandon. He fought tooth and nail into the second round, clubbing Rakic with a right hand that sent him careening across the octagon. Smelling blood, Procházka finished the fight with an assault of ground strikes, securing his place as the number one contender to Pereira's throne.