Meditation, a 17th century samurai book and the strict code of ‘Bushido’… how Czech star Jiri Prochazka went from ‘the edge of morality’ to become a fearsome KO artist challenging for the title at UFC 275
- Jiri Prochazka is an exciting KO artist and has a title shot at UFC 275 on Saturday
- He is a fascinating character and could be first champion from Czech Republic
- Prochazka lives his life by a Samurai code having been inspired by a book
- The 29-year-old is deeply philosophical and regularly enjoys meditation
Jiri Prochazka could become the Czech Republic’s first UFC champion on Saturday night but the waves of that success would crash well beyond his homeland.
The 29-year-old has the hallmarks of a superstar and very few fighters earn themselves a shot at the belt after just two outings at the big show.
He is on the cusp of a new level of stardom but if anyone can be prepared for the wild world of fame and celebrity, it is Prochazka, who views himself as a modern day samurai.
Jiri Prochazka admitted he lived on the ‘edge of morality’ as a youngster (left) but has since dedicated his life to MMA and the craft around it
Prochazka (right) knocked out Dominick Reyes (left) is his last fight to earn a title shot
For all the bluff, bluster and trash talk keeping the wheels of the UFC spinning – the quiet man from Hostěradice has a different kind of allure.
He lives his life by the strict code of Budisho – the rules by which ancient Japanese warriors held themselves to.
Prochazka, like many professional fighters, began by scrapping on the streets and living, as he describes, ‘on the edge of morality’.
‘When it came to my training my coach Jaroslav Hovezak gave me Five Rings,’ he previously explained. ‘It was an important moment because it gave me some rules to my life.
‘From this time I started to learn about Chinese culture, Japanese samurai ideas and (started) on a spiritual journey. The timing, the rhythm, how to start to use my true power.’
Prochazka has been inspired by The Book of Five Rings and lives by the code of Bushido
A post shared by Jiří “BJP” Procházka (@jirkaprochazka)
Written by the Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi in the 17th century, The Book of Five Rings has been claimed to help martial artists in a variety of disciplines through a mixture of technical teachings and approaches to combat.
He added: ‘[Bushido] is very simple rules which you can use for everything. It’s about what you believe in, what you love, how you want to speak with other people.
‘It’s about loyalty to, not your team, but loyalty to yourself to live by my truth, what I’m feeling inside. It’s very simple, but these things are [the] strongest.’
That obsession with Asian culture is bound to help Prochazka feel right at home at UFC 275 this Saturday. Singapore plays host to the event and he’ll have plenty of support against champion Glover Teixeira in the headline act.
‘With this body, with this mind, with this soul, with every breath I want to win. I’m ready for anything,’ Prochazka said.
‘I still find something new in Musashi’s writings. This journey is endless – one can still move. We were born without anything and we will leave anyway. All we have left is a soul.’
The Czech Republic star would be the first fighter to win a UFC title from his country
But for all the talk of mind body and soul, it was in fact Tekken and the film ‘Never Back Down’ that first inspired him into the world of MMA as a youngster.
He told the New York Post: ‘Before high school, my first experience with martial arts was when I was playing ‘Tekken’ on the PlayStation (laughs). That was my first experience.
‘And then before I stepped into high school, my friend showed me Muay Thai videos with Ramon Dekkers, and Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic and Fedor [Emelianenko]. It was around 2008, 2007. And I was excited by that.
‘And after that, I saw the movie ‘Never Back Down,’ the first one (laughs). And then I started to [train] martial arts, especially Thai boxing, and I really fell in love with it.’
Thrill-seeking as a young man has now been completely flipped on its head and Prochazka’s Instagram feed is packed with pictures of him training and meditating in the wilderness.
The light-heavyweight became a champion in Rizin before signing with the UFC
He insists the rush of victory is not what truly motivates him. He believes it to be an unsustainable, passing sensation.
‘I don’t just fight to win, win and win. Chasing victory and success is fleeting,’ Prochazka added.
‘Everything can be gone with a snap of your finger. I focus on managing the journey as such. The philosophy of the Japanese samurai, who were ready for their task or even to die for their master, helped me a lot.’
There are plenty of fighters in the UFC who talk up humility and honour, while others pursue controversy to hit higher pay-per-view numbers.
Prochazka is enough of an enigma to drive interest without belittling opponents and it doesn’t hurt that he is hugely entertaining to watch.
He already has 32 professional fights and was the Rizin champion before he put pen to paper with the UFC.
Prochazka is a physical specimen and Glover Teixeira will have his work cut out
Of his 28 wins, 25 have come by knockout. His slick, unorthodox style and devastating power, combined with frankly the greatest hairstyle to grace the octagon, gives Prochazka box office appeal.
He stands at 6ft 3in but appears far more imposing with the tightly tied hair protruding vertically from his scalp.
You may think a KO artist has to have a particular kind of venom or spiteful intent but Prochazka is almost a reluctant killer.
He told a Czech newspaper: ‘When the opponent is out, I will only do what is absolutely necessary for the referee to tear it up.
‘I’m not beating him up for my own satisfaction that I want to beat someone or be aggressive. This is complete nonsense.
‘I’m not going to maim my opponent, but I’m going to beat him. I have no problem with him, I do not wage war with him.’
Perhaps Prochazka’s single-minded devotion to his way of life makes him more eerily threatening.
It will be fascinating to see if the 29-year-old can keep up his rate of progression
It’s been seven years since his last defeat and second-round knockouts of Volkan Oezdemir and Dominick Reyes were enough for the call-up in Singapore.
Teixeira, 42, is the second oldest champion in UFC history after Randy Couture and will have his hands full.
The Brazilian is deadly on the ground so could pose a different kind of threat to his challenger but it would be no surprise at all to see the Czech star have his hand raised.
Light-heavyweight has been a fascinating division since Jon Jones vacated his belt but if Prochazka continues on his current trajectory, the division could be on the cusp of a new era.
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