Light heavyweights Alex Pereira and Jiri Prochazka replace Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic atop the marquee at UFC 295. The five-round championship fight will take place on Saturday, November 11, at the iconic Madison Square Garden in New York City.
Jones suffered a torn pectoral muscle during a training session on Oct. 23 that forced him off the card and delayed the epic battle with Miocic until next year.
Odds To Win
Sat, 11 Nov, 2023 - 10pm ET
Madison Square Garden, New York City
Pereira (8-2-0) has won eight of his previous nine fights and earned a split decision win against Jan Błachowicz in his light heavyweight debut at UFC 291 in July. The third-ranked Brazilian has notched six of his last eight wins via KO or TKO, and only one of his 10 UFC fights has passed the third round.
Prochazka (29-3-1) is riding a 13-fight winning streak and is making his first appearance since capturing the light heavyweight belt with a rear-naked choke submission against Glover Teixeira at UFC 275 nearly 17 months ago. The top-ranked Czech was forced to vacate the title due to a shoulder injury.
In the co-main event, No. 2 ranked Sergei Pavlovich and No. 4 ranked Tom Aspinall will battle for the interim UFC heavyweight title in the co-main event. Aspinall is a slight favorite despite accepting the fight on two weeks' notice after the Jones and Miocic fight was scrapped.
Pavlovich (18-1-0) has reeled off six consecutive wins since falling to Alistair Overeem in 2018.
The 31-year-old Russian has elite power and has racked up 15 first-round knockouts.
Aspinall (13-3-0) is a well-rounded fighter who tallied a first-round TKO against Marcin Tybura in July. The 30-year-old England native has won 12 of his 13 fights in the opening round.
Pereira (-125) is a slight favorite to win the vacant light heavyweight title against Prochazka (+105), per BetMGM sportsbook. However, the underdog has won 13 straight fights and was forced to relinquish his belt due to an injury. This fight promises to be a slugfest that either fighter can win.
Both fighters are elite strikers with identical 86% KO/TKO finish rates. Pereira lands 5.11 significant strikes per minute, while Procházka lands 5.77. Defensively, Pereira has the advantage with only 3.7 significant strikes absorbed per minute against Prochazka's 5.4 significant strikes hitting paydirt.
Prochazka is the better grappler, with a takedown average per 15 minutes at 0.38, compared to Pereira's 0.22 takedown average. The former light heavyweight champion also has an advantage with a submission average per 15 minutes of 0.38, while Pereira has yet to tally a submission. However, the former middleweight titleholder's 70% takedown defense rate is slightly higher than Prochazka's 68%.
While Pereira is excited about avenging the loss of his mentor, Teixeira, he will not be blinded by revenge.
"I'm not going into this fight with mixed emotions about vengeance," Pereira told CBS Sports through an interpreter. "I don't want to play that game. I want to go with a very positive mindset. I'm going to fight with the mindset that they haven't even fought before. But looking into the other side of being able to bring Glover his belt back and put it back in the gym, that means a lot to me."
Although Pereira picked up a close win against ex-champion Jan Blachowicz four months ago, he understands that Prochazka will be a much more difficult fight.
"The thing that makes him dangerous is all the experience he has," Pereira said. "He's a seasoned fighter. He's dangerous, but that helps to keep me aware and not overlook the guy. I'm actually preparing to go over there and get it done. He's a seasoned and experienced guy. That plays a part in it."
Prochazka is coming off an extended layoff due to a significant shoulder injury. He acknowledges that it will not be an easy task to reach the level he attained before his injury.
"An injury like this, it's difficult in many ways," Procházka told Yahoo Sports. "You have to stay calm and control your mind because you have a lot of thoughts. There is a period when you get injured. You have to accept what you are dealing with. To fix it, to get back to where you were, or even better, to go from zero to 100, it's going to take work, he stressed.
"It's a lot of hard work. When you realise that, you just can be calm, focus on what you need to do each day to be better and you'll see the results
Former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker believes the fight will be a barnburner with fans on the edge of their seats.
"This is going to be a gnarly fight. It's crazy for so many different reasons. Obviously, Pereira has an amazing striking game. We've seen it in his fights, and this is his weight division. He's got the range. He's got the reach. He's got the height," said Whittaker.
"Jiri has an uncanny ability to find the win in these fights. In these harder fights, he looks to be outclassed. He finds the wins, Whittaker said. "I like Alex Pereira, nothing personal, but my tip is going to be Jiri for the win."
Betting Pick: Jiri Prochazka
Considering how the former two-division Glory kickboxing champion has won eight of his previous nine fights and has not lost to anyone not named Israel Adesanya since 2015, Pereira is the favorite. But Prochazka vacated the title due to a shoulder injury and is our pick to reclaim the belt in his long-awaited return to action. A $100 wager on Prochazka at odds of +105 would net a total payout of $205.
The Over/Under bet is another popular type, where you wager on the number of rounds the fight will last. Given that Pereira and Prochazka are both potent strikers, we expect the fight to end in the fourth round or earlier. Thus, betting Under 3.5 rounds could be a winning pick.
The five-round light heavyweight championship fight will occur on Saturday, November 11, at the Madison Square Garden in New York. UFC fans in the Big Apple can watch the bout live on ESPN+ pay-per-view.
Former UFC middleweight champion Alex Pereira is the favorite to knock off the former light heavyweight titleholder at UFC 295. Pereira is a -125 betting favorite, while Volkanovski is the +105 underdog, per BetMGM.
Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall meet in the co-main event with the interim UFC heavyweight title on the line. Other fights on the undercard include featherweights Diego Lopes and Pat Sabatini, Top 10 strawweights Jessica Andrade and Mackenzie Dern, and lightweights Matt Frevola and Benoît Saint Denis.
Bets can be placed during the fight as it is happening with live UFC odds that are constantly changing based on what's happening in real-time inside the Octagon. The most popular types of in-play bettings are moneyline wagers representing the odds for who will win the fight outright. Other live betting types include the method of victory and how long the fight will last.
Mixed martial arts fans can place bets on this exciting light heavyweight title bout at BetMGM, a popular and trusted sportsbook in New York.