Jiri Prochazka has vacated the UFC light heavyweight championship without ever defending the title. Prochazka was scheduled to defend his crown at UFC 282 against Glover Teixeira in a rematch of their epic showdown from earlier this year. Instead, Jan Blachowicz vs. Magomed Ankalaev, originally scheduled as a three-round co-main event, will determine a new champion, the UFC announced in a statement.
Prochazka voluntarily vacated his belt after suffering a "severe orthopedic injury" that will sideline him for upwards of a year, according to ESPN. Prochazka injured his right shoulder while wrestling, his manager Tim Simpson told Yahoo Sports. UFC noted in its release that Prochazka will fight for the title once he is medically cleared to compete again after his rehabilitation process.
"I was injured in training in Las Vegas while finishing my preparation for my title defense in the UFC's light heavyweight division," Prochazka said in a statement posted to Instagram on Wednesday. "I injured my shoulder and surgery is required which will put me out of action for at least six months. Knowing this information, I have decided, after consulting with UFC management, that due to this time constraint, I will not hold [up the] light heavyweight division and will vacate the title.
"I will go for the UFC belt as soon as the doctors give me the green light to fight. 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 [from] whoever holds it. I apologize to my fans, friends, and family who bought tickets and made plans to come to Las Vegas to support me, it means a lot to me. I also want to apologize to Glover. Victory!"
UFC president Dana White ranked Prochazka's shoulder injury as the worst UFC doctors have witnessed.
"This is the worst shoulder injury the doctors have seen in UFC history," White said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. "It's really f---ing bad. His shoulder is very, very bad. He's going to have serious surgery that will require extensive rehab."
Teixeira turned down a different proposed title fight, according to Yahoo Sports.
Blachowicz previously earned the title when he won the vacant strap by TKO over Dominick Reyes in September 2020. This will be Ankalaev's first title fight under the UFC banner and he enters with a nine-fight win streak.
Prochazka vs. Teixeira 2 was an immediate rematch from their Fight of the Year frontrunner at UFC 275. Prochazka captured the UFC light heavyweight title in just his third UFC fight, defeating the promotion's oldest first-time champion in Teixeira.