The UFC returns to Madison Square Garden for a huge double-header title fight card at UFC 295, headlined by a vacant light heavyweight championship bout between Jiri Prochazka and Alex Pereira.
Prochazka is the former 205-pound champion but vacated the belt due to a severe shoulder injury a year ago, while Pereira is a former middleweight champion and is looking to become a two-weight champion in the UFC in just his seventh fight with the organization.
We'll take a look at the main event and provide you with our best free UFC picks to see if we can earn you some extra cash while watching an incredible fight card.
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UFC 295 information
- Saturday, November 11th 2023
- Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
- Main card starts at 22:00 ET
- Vacant Light Heavyweight title fight (205lbs weight limit)
- 5 x 5 minute rounds
Jiri Prochazka vs Alex Pereira
An unbelievable fight is on the cards here between two of the best and most powerful strikers in the light heavyweight division.
Prochazka is currently on an incredible 13-fight win streak, comprising of 12 finishes with 11 knockouts and one submission win to take his professional record to a mightily impressive 29-3-1.
His UFC debut saw him flatten former title challenger Volkan Oezdemir with a second-round knockout back at UFC 251 in Abu Dhabi, before a stunning spinning back elbow knockout of another former challenger in Dominick Reyes asserted him as one of the most dangerous fighters in the division and earned him a title shot.
There he fought Glover Teixeira, who is now Pereira's coach, where a five-round war played out and saw fight of the year shouts before the Czech Republic samurai earned a rear-naked choke submission win with just 28 seconds remaining on the clock.
He was then scheduled to fight Teixeira in a rematch last December, but suffered a shoulder injury that UFC president Dana White called "the worst in UFC history" which forced him to relinquish the belt. This will be his first bout since June 2022.
Pereira on the other hand has been very active since making his UFC debut, arriving as a Glory Kickboxing two-weight world champion, with a professional MMA record that now stands at just 8-2.
Poatan's debut in the company saw him knockout Andreas Michailidis with a flying-knee at UFC 268, before he earned a very tough unanimous decision win over veteran Bruno Silva. That earned him a title eliminator bout with now-champion Sean Strickland, whom he demolished in just 2:36 with a trademark left hook.
That gave him a title shot against long-time rival Israel Adesanya and despite being down on the scorecards the Brazilian staged a stunning comeback in the fifth-round to knock out the long-reigning champion and shock the world to become the champion. In the rematch just five months later though he was less successful, as The Last Stylebender claimed his title back with a vicious second-round knockout.
The defeat sparked Pereira to move up a division to 205lbs, where he fought former champion Jan Blachowicz in his first outing and claimed a controversial split decision win to earn this title fight.
Route to victory
This is no doubt going to be a thrilling striking bout between two powerhouses, but with very different offensive styles.
Prochazka is a bit of a wild man, with a wide stance and an off-rhythm striking pattern that catches a lot of opponents off guard. He has tremendous power and is always more than willing to spin or throw strikes at unorthodox angles to land, while often leaving his chin quite exposed.
Pereira on the other hand is a world-class technician with elite technique and traditional kickboxing style. He likes to use his leg kicks to great effect and has a nasty left hook that can put anyone's lights out if it lands flush on the chin. He has a fantastic chance of winning this bout, because of his speed and accuracy.
But as Glover Teixeira found out in their bout, Prochazka isn't afraid to go to the ground if he needs to and his wrestling defense is greatly improved also. This will be a high-paced affair which will no doubt favor Prochazka due to his eccentric style.
There's no doubting that if Pereira wants to win he needs to use his low kicks and range management perfectly, while trying to force Prochazka to fight on his heels although this won't be easy. For Prochazka the best route to a victory is pressure. If he can overwhelm Pereira and force him backwards then the fight will be on his terms and he will have a far better chance of success. Whoever gets control of the centre of the octagon will have a huge edge as the fight goes on.
Check out our review for Bovada sports betting here.
UFC 295 picks: Prochazka back on top
Poatan has been far more active in the UFC, but both of these guys are just as dangerous as the other and there will be plenty of respect in that octagon.
Pereira, as good as he is, is a fairly one-dimensional fighter and is far easier to prepare for than Prochazka is. The one glaring factor in this bout though is that we don't know how much the shoulder injury that forced Prochazka out of his last fight will effect him throughout the rest of his career.
If he's back to 100 percent and as good as he's ever been then he should get the win here just because of his volume and pressure style, but if he's even a shade off that then Pereira will be capable of ending his night early.
With the odds as close as they are, backing Prochazka as the underdog when he's the more complete fighter seems like a fantastic bet.
Check out our review for BetOnline sports betting here.