Jiri Prochazka and Glover Teixeira may have put on one of the best fights of the year at UFC 275, but light heavyweight contender Anthony Smith knows he didn’t see the best out of either man on Saturday.
Despite a back-and-forth war capped off by Prochazka pulling off an improbable submission to finish Teixeira in the fifth round, Smith saw a lot of deficiencies on display from both fighters which likely allowed the title fight to play out the way that it did.
“To be honest, I think both of those guys had the worst performances of their life at the same time,” Smith said on The MMA Hour. “I really do. For the first time, Glover looked a little old. For the first time in a while, because that’s not the Glover I got. That’s not the one Thiago Santos got. I don’t know who that guy was, but fortunately for him, I think Prochazka had one of the worst performances he could have possibly had too.
“They just made terrible decisions. Like the fight IQ, if you would have put it together, it wouldn’t have been in the double digits during the fight. They both just didn’t fight smart at all.”
Smith lost to Teixeira back in 2020 in a fight where he started strong but ultimately faltered before suffering a fifth-round TKO finish.
Teixeira then went on to defeat Thiago Santos and Jan Blachowicz in consecutive fights, with the latter win earning him the UFC light heavyweight championship.
Judging by what unfolded at UFC 275, Smith saw a much different fighter in Teixeira after he managed to take Prochazka down to the ground several times yet couldn’t do enough to put the Czech native away.
“Glover was mounted several times,” Smith said. “He had [Prochazka’s] back several times, he had him deep in submissions a couple times. He lost position. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen Glover lose positions like that before. I know the deficit between those two guys in the grappling department is huge.
“I’m a high level [Brazilian jiu-jitsu] black belt and I’ve submitted several world champions. I grapple at a very f****** high level and I was stuck like f****** Chuck [with Teixeira]. I don’t know what happened, where the Glover was that had me stuck on my back. Where was that guy? Because that’s not the same guy that fought on Saturday night.”
After the fight, Teixeira seemed to hint he endured a tough weight cut but stopped short of actually placing any blame on it playing a factor in the outcome of the fight.
Smith can only speculate what went wrong for Teixeira, but he was just as stunned by how Prochazka continuously came up short in areas where he was supposed to be dominant.
“I think it could be a culmination of a few things,” Smith said of Teixeira. “It may be could be his age. He didn’t fight like an old man, though. If you really go back and watch it, it was one-way traffic when those guys got to their spots. We all said, ‘If Jiri’s striking and he’s doing what he wants to do, he’s finishing Glover.’ Then we said, ‘If Glover gets him on the ground, he’s probably going to finish him.’ Both guys got to both of their spots several times and it was like a runaway train, they were just beating the s*** out of each other, but for some reason, they just couldn’t cap it off and get that finish.
“Defensively, Glover has been very good in his last three or four fights. He has been clipped a little bit. I think maybe his reaction time has slipped just a tiny bit but he’s rolling with the punches, he’s not taking anything clean. And then he fights Prochazka and he couldn’t get out of the way. It was just the oddest thing.”
Obviously, Smith had a lot of issues with how Teixeira and Prochazka performed, but he also praised both of them for gutting through a technically bad performance to still put on a memorable battle for the ages.
“Before anyone roasts me for talking s*** or talking bad — I’m not being critical,” Smith said. “I think that they both fought with bravery. Those were brave performances from both of those guys and I couldn’t rave about it more, but I’m also an analyst and I can analyze their performances and they were awful.
“As far as the Xs and Os, their coaches are not happy, I’ll tell you that. From an excitement standpoint watching it, it couldn’t have been f****** better, but as far as the technical stuff that went on, it was all bad.”