UFC 303: Alex Pereira rocks Jiří Procházka with head-kick KO to defend light heavyweight belt

Alex Pereira is starting to look like the UFC's most unstoppable force, as Jiří Procházka can once again testify.

The UFC light heavyweight champion defended his belt against the former title-holder with a brutal leg kick to the head, getting the KO with a few more blows on the ground and leaving Procházka barely conscious after the fight was called.

It was a repeat of the ending of the first round, when Pereira leveled Procházka with a hard left with a good second remaining. Had there been more than a few seconds left, the fight would have been over then and there.

The two fighters entered the bout with some rather odd drama. In an interview the week of the fight, Procházka claimed Pereira received an unfair advantage through "magic," or rather the champion's pre-fight rituals which touch on his indigenous heritage.

He requested Pereira not use such rituals, which Pereira emphatically declined. It was with that history the two men, both known for their personal gravity, walked in and stared each other down for nearly five minutes before the fight.

It is now looking like 2024 will be remembered as Pereira's year. He landed the main event at the promotion's stacked UFC 300 card and lived up to the moment with a first-round knockout of Jamahal Hill, which would have been the moment of the night had it not been for Max Holloway going berserker.

In UFC 303, Pereira and Procházka stepped in on two-and-a-half weeks' notice after Conor McGregor withdrew from the previously scheduled main event against Michael Chandler due to a broken pinky toe. No matter the outcome, Pereira would have received appreciation from UFC president Dana White. But to defend his belt in emphatic fashion against one of the most dangerous fighters in the division, that is stuff that makes you a higher sort of champion.

The question now is what's next for Pereira, who has taken over a previously chaotic division with wins over three former champs in Procházka, Hill and Jan Blachowicz. He could still face Magomed Ankalaev who has a very good argument that he was robbed of the belt in a controversial draw with Blachowicz, but he also said through an interpreter he intends to move up to heavyweight, with a chance at becoming the UFC's first three-division champion.

"I think that's in my future. I said that the last time I was here. I said it a lot, there didn't seem to be too much interest in the organization, but I'm here, I'm available and I do think that's in my future."

The fight ended one of the most logistically chaotic cards in UFC history, in which the co-main event had to be reworked four different times. The result of that fight was Diego Lopes defeating Dan Ige, who stepped in on four hours' notice.

Here's how every fight played out via Yahoo Sports:

  • RESULT: Alex Pereira def. Jiri Prochazka by TKO (head kick, punches) at 0:15 of R2


  • Round 1

    Prochazka goes down at the buzzer from a huge left hook! He was saved by the bell and wobbled back to his corner.

  • Fight begins

    After a staredown that lasted nearly five minutes, the fight starts with a quick Pereira jab.

  • The main event is next: Alex Pereira vs. Jiří Procházka

    Who they are: Pereira is the reigning 205-pound champ and the former 185-pound champ, either of which would be impressive enough. The fact that he’s done all that in just under three years with the UFC makes it almost unbelievable. Procházka was the champ for a minute before a shoulder injury forced him to give up the belt. He pulled off a big knockout win on the UFC 300 undercard in April, which means he has the advantage over Pereira in rest time between fights by roughly one hour.

    Why it matters: Well, it’s for the UFC 205-pound title, isn’t it? Pereira is brimming with confidence at this stage of his title reign. He’s remained very busy, and this will be his fourth fight in less than a year. That’s a lot for a light heavyweight and a whole lot for a current champ. Will it equal momentum or burnout? Procházka hopes it’s the latter, because if he loses a second time to Pereira there probably won’t be an offer for a third.

  • Lopes calls out Brian Ortega or Alexander Volkanovski at Las Vegas Sphere in September

  • RESULT: Diego Lopes def. Dan Ige by unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)

  • Ige-Lopes goes the distance

    Big final round for Ige, who finishes the fight on top. Lopes looked incredibly tired in the final five minutes and had his moments, but he likely the won the first two rounds and should take the decision win.

  • Lopes with the edge in R1

  • 60 seconds left in R1

  • Ige walking out to DMX's "Bring Your Whole Crew"

  • Next up: Dan Ige vs. Diego Lopes

    Who they are: Lopes may have the haircut of a mid-2000s emo bassist, but his three-fight finishing streak suggests he’s developing into a genuinely dangerous featherweight. Dan Ige is a career featherweight who stepped in on the latest notice in UFC history. He has four Performance of the Night bonuses to his name.

    Why it matters: It really doesn't. The fight is at 165 pounds, Ige was training for a different fight until earlier Saturday when he got the call to step in and Lopes has never fought above 145 pounds. This is a win-win for the prize fighters as they'll both get paid for even showing up, but at the end of the day it shouldn't affect their standing in the division win or lose.

  • RESULT: Roman Dolidze def. Anthony Smith by unanimous decision (30-27, 29-28, 29-28)

  • To the scorecards we go ...

    Smith and Dolidze go the distance and now we get to hear how the judges scored the fight. Smith gassed out in the second half of the fight, but Dolidze really didn't land anything of major significance.

  • Dolidze in control after two rounds

    The Georgian landed a big left that wobbled Smith, who stumbled his way to the mat. It was all Dolidze after that, but he couldn't get the finish from the back or top. Onto round 3 we go.

  • Round 1 in the books