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LAS VEGAS — Jiri Prochazka has fought once in the UFC, and while he’s no newcomer to mixed martial arts, unless you’re one of the sport’s hardcore fans, he’s probably not on your radar.
He should be, however. And he probably will be, win or lose, after Saturday (10 p.m. ET, ESPN+) when he meets Dominick Reyes in a critical light heavyweight bout in the main event of UFC Vegas 25 at Apex.
The fact that Prochazka is in a UFC main event in just his second fight in the promotion says a lot about what its powers-that-be think about him. And at BetMGM, Prochazka is a -135 favorite over Reyes, who is at +115.
Reyes is only a year or so removed from a spirited bid for the light heavyweight title against Jon Jones. Reyes lost that bout at UFC 247, though he and many others believed he had done enough to eke it out.
Reyes dropped his next bout, a match for the vacant belt when he was stopped by Jan Blachowicz, and enters Saturday’s bout looking to snap a two-fight losing skid. The UFC did him no favors in pitting him with Prochazka.
Prochazka is 27-3-1 with 24 knockouts. In his highly anticipated promotional debut at UFC 251 on July 12, he scored a second-round knockout of Volkan Oezdemir and won a Performance of the Night bonus. That was his ninth consecutive win by KO or TKO, a streak that includes familiar names such as C.B. Dollaway, Fabio Maldonado and Muhammed Lawal. He also has a knockout victory over Vadim Nemkov, the current Bellator light heavyweight champion.
Prochazka is already ranked fifth in the light heavyweight division, just two spots behind Reyes.
The winner will be in prime position for a title fight.
Reyes’ quickness and athleticism figure to be problems for Prochazka, but Prochazka is a veteran of many Muay Thai fights and this promises to be a stand-up battle.
Reyes will be a tough out, but I think Prochazka’s experience will enable him to squeak out a five-round decision. BetMGM doesn’t have the prop bets up yet, but I will lay the -135 and bet Prochazka to win. I’ll also bet the fight to go the distance and to go over, depending on what the number comes out at.
Other plays for UFC Vegas 25
I like Sean Strickland at -245 to win over Krzysztof Jotko. I like Strickland to win by finish, but there no numbers up on it yet.
I like the bout between Cub Swanson and Giga Chikadze to go the distance.
I will take Cody Stamann at +185 to defeat Merab Dvalishvili.
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