Jiri Prochazka was on his back, trailing on the scorecards and less than a minute away from defeat against Glover Teixeira, who had moved to the mount position in Round 5 and was hammering the challenger with shots from the top in Saturday’s UFC 275 main event in Singapore.
But Prochazka reversed the position suddenly and then took Teixeira’s back. The native of the Czech Republic was landing big punches. Teixeira rolled and Prochazka moved into side control. Next, as Teixeira fought to get away, Prochazka jumped on a rear-naked choke and with 28 seconds remaining in this epic contest, Teixeira tapped to the RNC.
Prochazka cashed tickets as a favorite in the -210 range but, most notably, he hooked up bettors backing the prop bet for him to win by submission for a return in the +1600 to +1800 range. FanDuel actually had this proposition wager at 30/1 odds (!). The prop for Prochazka to win in Round 5 had 25/1 odds at DraftKings and 28/1 odds at FanDuel.
And there were heartbreaking losses for gamblers, too. For those hoping to cash a prop for Teixeira to win by decision, they missed out on a +900 return at DraftKings and a +750 payout at FanDuel. For the fight to go the five-round distance, ‘yes’ was +400 at Caesars.
Going into Round 5, which Teixeira was winning before the stoppage, the 42-year-old Brazilian was ahead on two judges’ cards (39-37 on one and 38-37 on another) and the third judge had it at 38-38.
In his post-fight interview with Daniel Cormier, Teixeira deflected the notion that it was time for him to retire, telling ‘DC,’ “I’m going to keep going.” He later took to Twitter to request a rematch.
Whether that request for a rematch is granted remains to be seen. What isn’t in dispute is that we witnessed the greatest fight in the history of the UFC’s light-heavyweight division this past Saturday. This epic battle, complete with drama, fireworks and momentum shifts galore, overtakes Jon Jones vs. Alexander Gustafsson 1 and some of the loop’s other classic scraps like Cormier vs. Gustafsson and Chuck ‘The Iceman’ Liddell vs. Wanderlei Silva.
If the promotion passes on the rematch in favor of Prochazka vs. Jan Blachowicz, Prochazka is listed as a -130 favorite at BetOnline. Blachowicz, the former champ who lost the belt to Teixeira last year, is a +110 underdog. (I don’t have a BetOnline account but if I did, I would jump all over Prochazka at -130.)
In the co-main event, Valentina ‘The Bullet’ Shevchenko got the toughest test of her nine-fight tenure in the UFC women’s flyweight division from Taila Santos. She was clearly trailing on the judges’ scorecards going into the championship rounds, but the 34-year-old Russian was better down the stretch and captured a split-decision win (49-46, 47-48, 48-47) as a favorite in the -600 to -800 range.
According to MMADecisions, three media members scored in 49-46 for Shevchenko, 16 had it 48-47 for the champion and eight scored it 48-47 for Santos.
Santos had the great misfortune of fighting the last two-plus rounds with a broken orbital bone sustained in Round 3 from an inadverdent headbutt from when both women clashed heads during a striking exchange. Her eye was swollen shut and she said she couldn’t see out of it in the final two rounds.
Santos is set to undergo surgery upon her return home to Brazil. Her record fell to 19-2 overall and 5-2 in the UFC, but there was zero shame whatsover in this narrow setback.
Shevchenko defended her 125-pound strap for the seventh straigh time. She’s won nine consecutive fights. Prior to UFC 275, Shevchenko spoke of moving back up to bantamweight to take on the winner of Amanda Nunes vs. Julianna Pena for her next fight. Considering how close this bout was, though, and the factor of the headbutt, you have to think that a rematch is a possibility.
Yes, Santos could be looking at a long layoff after surgery. However, the official date for Nunes vs. Pena isn’t even set yet, and there’s no way to know whether or not that winner will want (or need) an extended layoff afterwards.
Outside of the two title fights on the UFC 275 card, there was anticipation galore for the rematch between former women’s strawweight champions, Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, who battled it out at UFC 248 in the scrap that most call the greatest women’s fight in MMA history.
Since that match, Weili had lost her belt to Rose Namajunas and subsequently lost a rematch as well. However, with Namajunas recently losing her belt to Carla Esparza, Saturday’s winner had already been promised the next crack at Esparza for the 115-pound strap.
It’ll be Weili that gets that title shot. She finished Jedrzejczyk midway through the second stanza with a spinning backfist.
After suffering the defeat that was preceded by a 27-month layoff, the 34-year-old Jedrzejczyk took her gloves off and left them on the Octagon canvas. It signaled the end of one of the most distinguished careers in women’s combat sports history.
Jedrzejczyk, who grew up poor in Poland, had been giving her all to the fight game for the last two decades. Before arriving in the UFC, she compiled a 27-3-1 record in professional kickboxing. Jedrzejczyk also posted a 37-3 record (with all three of her defeats coming against Shevchenko) in amateur Muay Thai.
From 2012-2014, she won her first six MMA matches in Poland (four times), London (once) and Russia (once). Then Jedrzejczyk won her first two UFC fights to earn a shot at Esparza, the first champion in women’s strawweight history. Jedrzejczyk battered Esparza into a bloody mess en route to a second-round KO victory to win the belt.
For the next 2.5 years across five successful title defenses, she became known simply as “Joanna Champion.” She would famously say after each defense of her belt, “And still….again, again and again!”
Although she struggled to a 2-5 record in her last seven bouts, her only defeats came to champions like Namajunas (twice), Shevchenko (when she went up a weight class to challenge for the flyweight strap and went the distance) and Weili (twice).
When asked about the proudest accomplishment from her storied career, an emotional Jedrzejczyk said, “I’m just the girl from the hood. J.J. from the hood. I did big things and I made my American dream come true.”
All five fighters — with the exception of Prochazka, who won Fight of the Night honors along with Teixeira — that had finishes at UFC 275 were awarded $50,000 Performance of the Night bonuses. That list included Weili, Jake Matthews, Jack Della Maddalena, Hayisaer Maheshate and Gomez Juarez.
**B.E.’s Bonus Octagon Nuggets**
–Matthews defeated Andre Fialho by second-round KO as a short underdog.
–BetOnline has Weili listed as a -275 ‘chalk’ vs. Esparza, who is a +235 underdog.
–In an interview last week with ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Dana White wasn’t ready to commit to Khamzat Chimaev making his next Octagon appearance against Belal Muhammad. Both figthers appeared to agree to face one another on a Twitter exchange last week. Just in case, BetOnline has Chimaev listed as a -500 favorite, with Muhammad at +375 on the comeback.
–Kamuru Usman’s injured hand is healed up. He’ll make his next title defense against Leon Edwards at UFC 278 on Aug. 20 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Usman is listed as a -255 favorite at FanDuel, with Edwards at +210 on the comeback. Usman defeated Edwards by unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27, 29-28) at UFC Orlando in December of 2015.
–I went to that UFC Orlando show and it was sensational! However, I didn’t realize until just now that there were six eventual (or former) UFC champions on that card, in addition to Alistair Overeem, Edwards, Vicente Luque, ‘Cowboy’ Cerrone and Nate Diaz who I had as a +330 underdog to beat Michael Johnson. And yes, that was the night of Diaz’s famous callout of Conor McGregor that started with, “Conor McGregor! You’re taking everything I’ve worked for, MF’er!” One of the future champions (Charles Oliveira) also called out McGregor that night, but it was in Portugese so I only recognized the ‘McGregor’ part.
–How wild was that card when you consider that Francis Ngannou, Usman, Edwards and Luque were all a part of the Fight Pass Early Prelims?!
–Which bout do you think is the leading candidate for Fight of the Year honors?
–I hope nobody tailed and at least some of you faded my UFC 275 picks that were an unmitigated disaster!