Jiri Procházka left a trail of unconscious opponents in his wake as he charged towards a potential UFC title. The only thing standing in his way is longtime UFC contender Glover Teixeira, who finally realized his own championship aspirations in his last fight by dethroning Jan Błachowicz on Fight Island. Now, the Brazilian champion will travel to Southeast Asia to attempt to make his first title defense against the hard-charging Czech powerhouse. The two men will meet in the center of the cage in the main event at UFC 275: Teixeira vs. Procházka, which takes place Saturday, Jun. 11, live from the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko looks to make history once again by notching her seventh defense of the women’s flyweight title. The woman tasked with dethroning the long-reigning champion is Taila Santos. Santos is a young contender at 28-years-old, and she enters the title showdown riding a four-fight winning streak. She will look to become only the second woman in the UFC to defeat Valentina Shevchenko, joining Amanda Nunes.
Also on the main card is a rematch fans have been calling for for over two years. Joanna Jędrzejczyk steps into the cage for the first time since losing a split decision to Weili Zhang for the UFC strawweight championship. That fight became an instant classic and is arguably the greatest fight in the history of women’s mixed martial arts. Now, the two former champions will run it back on the main card at UFC 275 as they both look to restart their push for another run at the title now held by Carla Esparza.
UFC 275 kicks off on UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+ with the early prelims beginning at 6 p.m. ET. The preliminary card will stay on ESPN+ and also air on ESPN 2 at 8 p.m. ET. The night culminates with the main card on ESPN+ pay-per-view at 10 p.m. ET. Combat Press writers Andrew Sumian and Matt Petela preview the action in this week’s edition of Toe-to-Toe.
Glover Teixeira became the oldest first-time UFC champion when he defeated Jan Błachowicz in 2021; does he successfully make his first title defense just a few months shy of his 43rd birthday?
Sumian: The champion will definitely have his hands full when he is tasked with sharing the Octagon with the always entertaining Jiri Procházka in the main event of UFC 275. If Teixeira is able to successfully defend his belt, there is a significant chance he retires and rides off into the sunset as UFC light heavyweight champion. However, defeating Procházka is completely different than merely stating it.
Despite being on the receiving end of several devastating knockouts, Teixeira has undoubtedly found a second wind in the later stages of his career. This has resulted in dominant victories over Anthony Smith, Thiago Santos, and Jan Błachowicz in his last three fights, which includes claiming the UFC light heavyweight belt. Teixeira’s bread and butter is taking his opponents to the ground where he is able to implement his powerful top control, brutal ground-and-pound and high-level submission skills. He is also a formidable boxer and has claimed 18 victories by way of knockout. The champion is a rare breed of well-roundedness and can finish anyone both on the ground or feet. Teixeira will have to bring his A-game to the cage if he hopes to walk away with the belt still around his waist.
Procházka is inarguably one of the best signings the UFC has made in the last several years. Despite only two fights inside the Octagon, the Czech native has made quite an impression by viciously knocking out both Vokan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes in his first two promotional appearances. Procházka is an aggressive Muay Thai striker and utilizes unorthodox movements to continuously keep his opponents guessing. If he is able to dethrone Teixeira and become the new champion, it could be the start of a long and prosperous title reign.
This main-event clash of light heavyweight titans should showcase two very different game plans. Teixeira should hold a significant advantage in the grappling department and is the only one of the two fighters who has experience in championship rounds. Thus, a quick submission in Round 1 is probably the most likely path to victory. However, he may choose to utilize his Octagon experience and drag this fight into the championship rounds. Teixeira will need to ensure his gas tank is able to handle this course of action given his age and likely speed disadvantage.
On the other hand, Procházka will want to keep this on the feet and continuously batter the champion with powerful, yet precise, combinations. He will certainly hold the speed advantage but will need to be mindful of not gassing himself out. If he is able to land on Teixeira, it is hard to imagine the 43-year-old champion being able to absorb many of the challenger’s powerful shots.
This will be an entertaining bout for as long as it lasts. The first round will showcase Procházka’s craft movement as Teixeira walks him down. The champion will execute a hard-fought takedown and end the round on top without doing much damage to the challenger. In Round 2, Procházka will find his groove and land a vicious right cross that visibly stuns Teixeira. He will follow up with several combinations before the referee has seen enough. Procházka will claim the UFC light heavyweight championship and wait for the next worthy challenger.
Petela: There’s one major point that my colleague made with which I agree. This fight will be entertaining as long as it lasts. However, we very much differ in how we see this fight ending. There is no doubt that Jiri Procházka is an absolute dynamo on the feet, and he will have a speed, and maybe even power, advantage against the more flat-footed striking of Glover Teixeira.
However, Teixeira has shown that he has somehow seemingly gotten more durable as he has gotten older. He withstood a tremendous amount of damage in his fights against Anthony Smith and Thiago Santos before coming back to pick up finishes of his own. Expect this fight to play out in similar fashion. Early on in the fight, Procházka will pick Teixeira apart on the feet and probably have a wide lead on the judges’ scorecards heading into the fourth round. But with the explosive power and output that Procházka brings to the cage, there comes an inescapable reality that that type of output can’t be maintained over five rounds. By the time the championship rounds commence, Procházka will be exhausted, and a battered Teixeira will capitalize and secure a takedown. He will then do what he does best and work to Procházka’s back and sink in a rear-naked choke. It will be Teixeira who leaves Singapore with the light heavyweight title still wrapped around his waist.
Valentina Shevchenko has been head-and-shoulders above her competition in the women’s flyweight division; does Taila Santos have the skillset to dethrone the long-reigning champion?
Petela: No. Taila Santos is a very good mixed martial artist and she has shown the ability to finish fights with her strikes, as well as with her submission grappling skills. She comes into this title showdown with ten knockout wins and three victories via submission. Not to mention, the lone blemish on her professional record is a split-decision loss to Mara Romero Borella. That being said, she will struggle mightily as soon as the cage door shuts.
Valentina Shevchenko is just on a different level. She continues to improve her nearly perfectly well-rounded skill set each time she fights. Not only does she have the division’s best technical striking by a substantial margin, she is a high-level Judo black belt and has nearly as many submissions as she does knockouts, with eight knockouts and seven submissions. Unfortunately for Santos and her team, I just don’t see a path to victory for her in this matchup. The best option is to try and push a frenetic pace and catch Shevchenko at the end of an extended combination but if that does happen, it will likely end with Shevchenko getting the better of the exchange and notching yet another finish, as she makes her seventh flyweight title defense.
Sumian: While I do believe Valentina Shevchenko will win this fight, Talia Santos will make it more interesting than people think. She is extremely well-rounded, confident and one of the only strikers who can probably keep up with Shevchenko. This fight will go to the judges’ scorecards and feature a striking battle for the majority of the 25 minutes. Shevchenko will earn a convincing unanimous-decision victory but Santos will be able to showcase her skills and prove to the world she is a top-three flyweight.
Who’s the biggest winner at UFC 272?
Sumian: Joanna Jędrzejczyk. Although she has not competed since Mar. 2020, the former strawweight queen is finally back and ready to make a statement. I personally believe she won her first meeting with Zhang, but her physical appearance affected the scoring of the judges. She will come into this fight recharged, focused and ready for war. Jędrzejczyk will earn a hard-fought, yet convincing, unanimous-decision victory over Zhang and, in all likelihood, find herself fighting for a title sooner rather than later.
Petela: Glover Teixeira. He will add another big bullet point to his Hall-of-Fame-caliber resume by stopping the hard-charging Jiri Procházka in his tracks with a rear-naked-choke victory. Many people, myself included, wrote off Teixeira as a title threat a few years back, and each and every time he proves us wrong his stock grows, as does his commercial marketability.
Who’s the biggest loser at UFC 272?
Petela: Jake Matthews. His three-fight winning streak was snapped in his last fight, when he fell via submission to Sean Brady back in Mar. 2021. He has been out of action for over a year, and a win would put him in a good position to restart his climb towards the top of the welterweight division. However, he finds himself going up against a streaking Andre Fialho. Fialho has scored Performance of the Night bonuses in his last two fights, both knockout victories. This will be a third-straight finish for Fialho, as he disposes of Matthews in the second round. It will be a huge setback for Matthews, as he once again is forced to go back to the drawing board and retool his skills if he is going to climb the ladder towards becoming a legitimate contender at 170 pounds.
Sumian: Zhang Weili. She will fall to 0-3 in her last three UFC fights and fall out of any title-contention conversations for the time being. Her next bout will be crucial if she ever hopes of becoming a champion again.
What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?
Sumian: Rogerio Bontorin has not earned a victory since Aug. 2019. He is facing the surging Manel Kape who is on a two-fight winning streak, both by knockout. Bontorin is in dire need of a victory if he wants to be considered a potential flyweight contender.
Petela: Joselyne Edwards. After a unanimous-decision victory in her UFC debut, Edwards has dropped back-to-back fights. She needs to deliver a memorable performance against Ramona Pascual if she wants to keep her spot on the roster. Granted, she fights in the women’s bantamweight division which isn’t stacked with talent, so she may have a longer leash just out of promotional necessity, but it’s tough to imagine that a 1-3 record will keep her with the organization, unless this fight turns into a Fight of the Night back-and-forth affair.
Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?
Petela: Brendan Allen vs. Jacob Malkoun. Allen bounced back from his TKO loss to Chris Curtis by submitting Sam Alvey in their meeting back in February. This showdown with Malkoun will be entertaining. Malkoun has been impressive since stumbling out of the gates in his UFC debut against Phil Hawes. He has notched back-to-back wins, but is still in search of his first UFC finish. He won’t get that finish this weekend, but this will be a fun clash between two talented up-and-comers who are both several years away from their 30th birthdays.
Sumian: The featherweight bout between Joshua Culibao and Seung Woo Choi is extremely intriguing. Both have finished numerous fights via knockout and should put on a fun fight for the fans who tune in for the prelims.
Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?
Sumian: Manel Kape will finish Rogerio Bontorin in impressive fashion. He is one of the best flyweights in the world and has been on the wrong end of decisions in the past. He will make it three in a row and find himself in the top 10 after this fight.
Petela: Jack Della Maddalena. He has gone the distance only one time in his 11 pro victories. He brings an onslaught of ferocious power and heavy volume to his opponents every time he fights. The challenge for him will be to not let his very methodical opponent, Ramazan Emeev, lull him into a slow fight. If Emeev can get Maddalena out of his rhythm, this fight could get very boring, very quickly. However, Maddalena won’t let that happen, and he will score a first-round knockout, becoming the first person to finish Emeev since 2014.
Pair this card with…
Petela: Dinner at your favorite local restaurant. This is the perfect fight card to take your significant other out to a nice meal on a Saturday and get back home before the main card starts. This pay-per-view is very-top heavy with a lack of name recognition early on in the evening. So take advantage of the bout order and enjoy a nice meal in town before making your way to the couch to catch the nonstop action on the main card.
Sumian: Clean sweep for Europe. Joanna Jędrzejczyk, Valentina Shevchenko, and Jiri Procházka will all showcase some of Europe’s most elite talent. As my colleague pointed out, this is a very top-heavy card with little name value on the preliminary portion of the card. However, the final three bouts of the evening will make up for it by providing viewers with must-see action for as long as each fight lasts.
Main Card (ESPN+ pay-per-view, 10 p.m. ET)
LHW Championship: Glover Teixeira vs. Jiri Procházka
Women’s FlyW Championship: Valentina Shevchenko vs. Taila Santos
Women’s StrawW: Weili Zhang vs. Joanna Jędrzejczyk
FlyW: Rogerio Bontorin vs. Manel Kape
WW: Jack Della Maddalena vs. Ramazan Emeev
Preliminary Card (ESPN 2 and ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET)
FW: Seungwoo Choi vs. Josh Culibao
MW: Brendan Allen vs. Jacob Malkoun
LW: Maheshate vs. Steve Garcia
WW: Andre Fialho vs. Jake Matthews
Preliminary Card (UFC Fight Pass and ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET)
BW: Kyung Ho Kang vs. Batgerel Danaa
Women’s StrawW: Liang Na vs. Silvana Juarez
Women’s FW: Ramona Pascual vs. Joselyne Edwards
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