There was no shortage of drama in Saturday’s UFC 275 card as the promotion held its first pay-per-view event in Singapore.
Jiri Prochazka captured the light heavyweight title in dramatic fashion but submitting ageless wonder Glover Teixeira in Round 5 of their instant classic. Meanwhile, in the co-main event, women’s flyweight champion Valentina Shevchenko was forced to rally and hang on for a disputed split-decision win against Taila Santos.
Joanna Jedrzejczyk also made headlines thanks to her retirement following a knockout loss to fellow former women’s strawweight champion Weili Zhang in a rematch of their 2020 title thriller.
Let’s take a closer look at the biggest takeaways from Singapore.
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1. Prochazka-Teixeira was arguably the most dramatic title fight in UFC history
From an action standpoint alone, Prochazka’s submission win with just 28 seconds to go in the final round easily belongs alongside Jon Jones-Alexander Gustafsson I, Zhang-Jedrzejczyk I and Frankie Edgar-Gray Maynard II as the best championship tilts in the 29 years UFC has been in business. But the never-ending dramatic swings of momentum might make it unique to itself. Either way, it’s a fight fans won’t soon forget as each warrior was willing to persevere through extreme damage and fatigue until an uncharacteristic mistake from Teixeira in Round 5 led to his heartbreaking defeat while ahead on two of three scorecards (with the third one even). This fight had a shocking ending similar to Anderson Silva-Chael Sonnen I yet was much sloppier and frenetic than most great title bouts as technique largely went out the window in this veritable street fight. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t perfect. Both fighters crawled and scratched through vicious cuts, deep submission attempts and the kind of hard strikes that would’ve finished mortal men. Lucky for us, what these two combined to author was anything but humane. It was humbling, gnarly and beautiful all at the same time.
2. Prochazka just became every fan’s new favorite fighter
He’s a character straight out of central casting. Part real-life ninja and typically all-or-nothing in his approach, Prochazka is a reckless force of nature who you simply can’t look away from. Thanks to his willingness to so often go against the grain of what is considered the orthodox norm in this sport, it’s very likely no one will. In just his third UFC fight, the 29-year-old native of the Czech Republic is now a champion. And even his spoiling of Teixeira’s inspirational comeback story at age 42 won’t be enough to change his growing fan-favorite status. Prochazka throws everything he has into each strike attempt, which is an easy way to endear yourself to fans. But it’s the incredible intangibles he employed in rallying to victory that will keep them coming back to the turnstiles to watch him compete.
3. Tough pill for Santos to swallow but the judges got it right
Shevchenko’s seventh defense of her 125-pound title turned out to be more competitive than most expected in a fight that saw the champion look human for the first time as flyweight champion. Santos was physically tough and held her own in terms of grappling to place the champion in compromising situations until an accidental head butt began to close her left eye to close Round 3. And it’s fair to argue whether she deserved better, especially considering the third scorecard (49-46 for Shevchenko) didn’t accurately portray what most fans saw. But that doesn’t mean Santos deserved to win the fight. The swing round in this case appeared to be Round 2 when Santos continued her success on the ground. Yet Santos was so passive in top position that referee Marc Goddard inevitably stood the two fighters up after giving a harsh warning. Shevchenko, who briefly secured a triangle choke attempt on the ground, got the better of the standup that round and was also much busier offensively while her back was stuck to the ground. Two of the three judges agreed that Shevchenko had won the second round, which opened the door for her to rally in the championship rounds by sweeping both on all three cards to steal the victory. This was undoubtedly a survive-and-advance type of moment for Shevchenko, who had been so dominant since becoming champion that many were starting to wonder whether she was unbeatable at this weight class. If Santos succeeded at anything, it was proving just how untrue that appears to be.
4. Zhang’s evolution was the difference
In the two years since their epic first meeting, Zhang may have dropped consecutive title fights to Rose Namajunas, but she never stopped evolving her game. By bulking up her frame and improving her offensive wrestling, Zhang proved just how dangerous she had become since their first fight. She also added variety to her standup, which was evident by the spinning backfist that caught Jedrzejczyk on the side of her neck and sent her face first to the canvas and unconscious. The fact that Jedrzejczyk hadn’t fought in two years seemed to catch up with her. Unlike the disputed result of their 2020 meeting, Zhang proved unequivocally to be in better form than Jedrzejczyk while also suggesting a second title reign is far from out of the question in such an unpredictable division.
5. From Joanna Champion to Joanna Legend
Jedrzejczyk left no stone unturned in her physical preparation to return from a two-year break and was willing to go out on her shield in the same manner she has fought much of her career as one of the most decorated and savage champions UFC has ever employed. The Polish star’s abrupt retirement following such a violent loss gave closure to what has been an incredible career. Jedrzejczyk’s five consecutive title defenses from 2015-17 remains the most successful reign in 115-pound history. But it was Jedrzejczyk’s fighting spirit that ultimately built her legend (making it easy to forget she lost five of her final seven bouts). Jedrzejczyk co-authored countless all-action thrillers and carried herself like a star throughout while juggling numerous business ventures outside the cage.