UFC 303: Alex Pereira knocks out Jiří Procházka again to defend light heavyweight title

Call it magic, shamanic powers or spiritual forces.

On Saturday night, Alex Pereira lived up to his “Poatan” nickname — meaning Stone Hands in the Tupi language — in knocking out Jiří Procházka in the second round with a lightning-quick switch kick to defend his light heavyweight title at UFC 303 on Saturday night.

Chama? Chama.

“Chama could mean anything, positive or negative,” Pereira said through a translator after the win, explaining the meaning of his catchphrase. On Saturday night, it might as well mean legend.

In the main event — which was originally scheduled to be Conor McGregor’s much-anticipated return — Pereira showed the MMA world why he’s the new face of the UFC.

Pereira spent much of the first round drilling leg kicks and calculating the distance needed to land his signature left hook. Then, in the literal last second of the round, Pereira fired that very hook, dropping Procházka and leaving “The Czech Samurai” floored as the round ended.

Five seconds into the second round, a still-wobbled Procházka had no hope. The head kick landed so powerfully that Pereira appeared to have injured the big toe on his left foot off Procházka’s head.

After a few extra punches thanks to a slow stoppage from referee Herb Dean, Pereira exited the International Fight Week main event king of the company.

With thrilling knockouts at both UFC 300 and International Fight Week, the UFC has called about their Brazilian powerhouse to be the company’s global face in their biggest events this year. And he’s more than delivered.

Pereira is 4-0 since moving up to light heavyweight and has now defended the division title twice since defeating Procházka in November to win the vacant strap. Just like in that November clash, Pereira’s mythical left hook did heavy damage again in Las Vegas.

Saturday’s result came after a week of Procházka doubling down on claims that Pereira has weaponized spiritual forces to win fights in the cage. After asking Pereira to fight “clear,” Procházka left Friday night’s ceremonial weigh-in shaking his head and telling reporters, “He’s trying to play something, I saw it in his eyes. What he’s doing, some technique, it doesn’t matter. I’m pure.”


Jiří Procházka accuses Alex Pereira of weaponizing spiritual forces ahead of UFC 303

After the midweek verbal sparring, the pair carried their intensity into the cage before the fight even began. After their staredown at UFC 295 went viral for its intensity, the two locked eyes for an extremely (extremely, extremely) long time before the fight, from the moment each walked into the cage and through Bruce Buffer’s introductions.

“Those gentlemen just stared through each other for four and half minutes, and Poatan didn’t even blink,” commentator Jon Anik said as the fight began.

But despite Procházka’s purity, Pereira handed him his second loss in three fights since returning from a devastating shoulder injury that forced him to relinquish the light heavyweight title in 2022.

The defense grows Pereira’s rapidly growing legend, as the 35-year-old has won eight of his nine fights in the UFC. Fix of his last six bouts have been title fights. All of those fights have come since November 2022, when Pereira first battled (and defeated) former kickboxing rival Israel Adesanya for the middleweight title.

Along with being one of only nine fighters in UFC history to win titles in multiple divisions, Pereira becomes the first light heavyweight champ to defend the division title multiple times since Jon Jones. Pereira’s stardom has finally brought stability to the division, which saw five different champions in four years after Jones relinquished the belt in 2020.

Pereira has also become a fan favorite for his fight frequency. His knockout of Procházka marked his sixth finish since joining the UFC in 2021.

In the co-main event, Diego Lopes defeated Dan Ige by unanimous decision, but Ige left the cage with a much-improved reputation. Ige stepped in on four hours notice to replace Brian Ortega, who withdrew at the last minute due to illness.

Earlier in the week, Ortega had issues cutting weight and his scheduled bout with Lopes was changed from featherweight to lightweight. Lopes’ bout with Ige was fought at a catchweight of 165 pounds.

Despite the complete lack of preparation for a fight with Lopes, Ige fought valiantly. He wobbled the up-and-coming Lopes with multiple power shots, showed deft submission defense in the first and second round, then controlled the pace in the third round as Lopes was gassed.

“It doesn’t matter eight weeks, six weeks, four weeks, four hours,” Ige yelled after the fight. “It doesn’t matter. This is what I live for. This is my dream.”

“To show up on four hours notice at International Fight Week on one of the biggest cards of the year in the co-main event, I couldn’t be happier with my performance.”

Required reading

(Photo: Jeff Bottari / Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

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