Aleksandar Rakic sees a fight with Jiri Prochazka as the perfect UFC light heavyweight title eliminator.
Prochazka emerged as a top contender when he scored an incredible spinning back elbow knockout of former title challenger Dominick Reyes at UFC on ESPN 23, moving him one spot ahead of Rakic in the official UFC 205-pound rankings.
Rakic (14-2 MMA, 6-1 UFC) has been on a great run of his own, coming off back-to-back wins over former title challengers Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos. So with both contenders knocking on the door of title contention, Rakic thinks a fight between them makes perfect sense.
“He did a great performance,” Rakic told MMA Junkie of Prochazka. “He knocked out Reyes. He’s now a top contender, and this fight makes sense against Jiri. The result what happened on Saturday is the best thing that could have happened to me because this wakes my attention, my motivation. I’m even now more motivated to go back to the gym, to train harder and harder.”
He continued, “This fight against Jiri makes the most sense now, and Glover (Teixeira) is going to fight Jan (Blachowicz) in September. Who else is gonna fight Jiri instead of me? Who?”
With all the hype surrounding Prochazka (28-3-1 MMA, 2-0 UFC), many have dubbed him as the No. 1 contender. But Rakic, who received some criticism for his past two fights that went the distance, believes people are counting him out of the conversation. In a recent tweet, he quoted UFC welterweight champion Kamaru Usman, claiming that he’s a problem and no one ever mentions his name.
“Everybody is talking about my last two fights. They were boring, and I didn’t knock them out,” Rakic said. “Everybody had that one fight that was not so spectacular, and in the last fight against Santos, we knew he’s dangerous in the counters, so I was a little bit patient with my attacks because he’s wild, wild countering. So that’s the reason the fight went like this, but a win is a win.
“I know I can knock anybody out in the division, and I can finish anybody in the division. It’s just a matter of time. I don’t want to force any knockouts or any submission. It will come by itself. But I know what I’m capable of doing, and this is the fight that makes the most sense, me and Jiri, and the winner is gonna fight for the title.”
Rakic lauds Prochazka for his highlight-reel finishes and dangerous style, but he also sees holes in his game. He thinks his ever-improving grappling could end up being his key to victory if they fight.
“He’s very aggressive,” Rakic said. “He’s coming forward. I’ve been watching him with my team. He’s a very good, aggressive, offensive striker. I didn’t see so much grappling and wrestling, I saw just in the last fight. I see some holes in his game especially. He’s unorthodox, and you need to deal with this unorthodox style, and I think his style would match up perfect because when I’m in the octagon I’m ice cold and every mistake, he will need to pay.
“He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes, but he has mistakes, and if I can catch him in the right moment, it’s gonna be a knockout. But if not, I’m working a lot on my grappling and wrestling in the last few years, and I see the most advantage in the grappling and wrestling area against Jiri, but if it’s going the distance, I will also be ready to go five or three rounds for war. It doesn’t matter.”
With light heavyweight champion Jan Blachowicz’s next title defense against Glover Teixeira taking place at UFC 266 in September, Rakic would love to face Prochazka on the same card.
“If the UFC want to do it with me and Jiri in September on the same card as Jan and Glover, that would be great for the division,” Rakic said. “It’s up to the UFC what they want. It’s a lot of hype around Jiri, and I understand this. He did a very good job, but someone needs to stop the hype.”