UFC 295: Fighters criticize 'early' stoppage in Alex Pereira's win, but Jiří Procházka says he 'was out'

Czech Republic's Jirí Procházka reacts after a light heavyweight title bout against Brazil's Alex Pereira at the UFC 295 mixed martial arts event early Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023, in New York. Pereira won the bout. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)
Some felt Jiří Procházka was the victim of an early stoppage against Alex Pereira at UFC 295. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Alex Pereira is your new UFC light heavyweight champion, but he didn't get there without a little controversy.

The Brazilian made his debut at 205 pounds Saturday at UFC 295 in Madison Square Garden, defeating Jiří Procházka by second-round TKO. It was shaping up to be a wild fight between two former champions, but then Pereira put Procházka on the floor with a right hook.

Procházka started to get up, but was met with several elbows to the head. Once he fell back again, referee Marc Goddard, who has something of a reputation for early stoppages, called the fight, awarding Pereira his second UFC belt in seven fights with the promotion.

Several UFC fighters were not happy with Goddard's decision.

One person who agreed with Goddard, however, was Procházka.

"In the end, I think it was right. I was out," Procházka said in his post-fight interview.

UFC president Dana White supported that account at the following news conference, saying "If [Procházka] says it's not, it's definitely not."

Further replay made Goddard's decision a little more understandable. Procházka was clearly reeling after Pereira's right hook, and there was little he could do as he fell backward while absorbing an inhuman amount of punishment from his opponent.

The loss starts Procházka's return from a devastating shoulder injury on a sour note, but the Czech fighter was displaying the skill that made him a champion a year and a half ago until it all went sideways.