Jiri Prochazka vacates 205-pound championship due to shoulder injury

UFC light heavyweight champion Jiri Prochazka has vacated his 205-pound championship after suffering a severe shoulder injury, UFC president Dana White told ESPN on Wednesday.

Prochazka (29-3-1), 30, was arranged to defend his title versus Glover Teixeira in the main event of UFC 282 on Dec. 10 in Las Vegas. He confirmed in an Instagram post Wednesday that he was vacating his belt, saying that he injured his shoulder while training for the Teixeira bout.

Prochazka stated he will need surgery and will be out of action for at least six months, but his estimated timeframe for recovery is upward of one year.

Prochazka elected to vacate his title out of respect for the division, according to his manager Tim Simpson.

“It was actually Jiri’s decision,” Simpson told ESPN. “He has a samurai way of life, and once he knew how long he would be out, he said, ‘I must respect the other fighters and let them fight for the belt.’ He believes they can have the belt but he will still be the champion.”

UFC chief business officer Hunter Campbell told ESPN on Wednesday that former champion Jan Blachowicz (29-9) and Magomed Ankalaev (18-1), who were already scheduled to face each other in a three-round fight at UFC 282, will now fight for the vacant title. Teixeira (33-8) was offered a shot at the vacant belt versus Ankalaev, but declined to take the switch in opponent, Campbell said.

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Prochazka, 30, faces a lengthy recovery from the shoulder injury, but will return to an immediate title fight once healthy, Campbell told ESPN.

The UFC usually considers the creation of an interim title in the event of injuries to its champions, but Prochazka insisted the division not be held up and the UFC agreed to temporarily move on given the uncertainty of his condition.

In his Instagram post, Prochazka apologized to Teixeira and said his immediate goal upon returning would be to reclaim the title.

“I will go for the UFC belt as soon as the doctors give me the green light to fight,” Prochazka said in his post. “I’m going to go for the belt and I’m going to get it no matter who currently holds it. It’s always been the most important thing for me to put on the best performance and compare myself to the best. Let the best show no matter who’s there now. I’ll be back in six months and I’ll take the title whoever holds it.”

Blachowicz, of Poland, earned the title in September 2020 by defeating Dominick Reyes. He recorded one successful defense against then-middleweight champion Israel Adesanya before surrendering it to Teixeira in late 2021. Teixeira went on to lose the belt to Prochazka in his first attempted defense in June.

Ankalaev has long been considered a sleeper in the division. He is riding a nine-fight win streak, which includes victories over Anthony Smith, Thiago Santos and Volkan Oezdemir.

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