JIRI PROCHAZKA PUT his arms at his facet and curled his lanky, 6-foot-4 physique Proper into a bow. In entrance of him was a Shinto priest, sporting a white robe and conventional black cap, referred to as a tate-eboshi.

It was October 2019, simply days after Prochazka had knocked out Fabio Maldonado on a Rizin Preventing Federation mixed martial arts card in Osaka, Japan. Following the wrestle, Prochazka and his coaches took a practice north to Kyoto To go to Sanjusangendo, The state of affairs of Definitely one of renpersonaled Japanese sphrasesman and thinker Miyamoto Musashi’s most well-knpersonal duels.

Tright here, in entrance of a shrine, the Shinto priest provided Prochazka, a Adjust toer of Musashi’s guidelines, a blessing. He spoke solely in Japanese. Prochazka’s coach, Jaroslav Hovezak, referred to as the shifting ceremony anfullly different landmark on Prochazka’s warrior path.

“It strengthened him on his method,” Hovezak said. “It was A strong expertise for our group.”

Eight yrs in the past, Hovezak gave Prochazka A duplicate of Musashi’s “The E-book of the 5 Rings,” a textual content material about martial arts and a information For all times. Since then, Prochazka has undertakeed Musashi’s cas quickly asptls virtually religiously. His evolution has taken him from a self-professionalfessed “very wild man” who engaged in over 100 road wrestles, was in a soccer hooligan membership again house Inside the Czech Republic and as quickly as chugged vodka out of A motorcycle gasoline line, to somephysique who patterns his life after Bushido, a Japanese moral code courting again to the samurais. And that self-discipline has led him to the cusp of UFC glory.

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“I really feel Jiri was extra Japanese than Many people over right here in Japan,” Rizin matchmaker Shingo Kashiwagi said.

Prochazka’s objective is “graspy in every An factor of life,” and his subsequent step To understand that in martial arts comes Saturday when he challenges Glover Teixeira for the UFC mild heavyweight title in The primary event of UFC 275 in Singapore (10 p.m. ET on ESPN+ PPV).

Wright hereas a sought-after objective, the UFC championship Is not the prime level for Prochazka, who carries his worn, canine-eared copy of “The E-book of the 5 Rings” with him All by way of the place he goes — even the locker room. Prochazka (28-3-1), A pair of of the thrilling wrestleers On the earth with 10 straight KO/TKO finishes, confacetrs incomes the gprevious belt Only anfullly different An factor of his “Technique of [the] warrior.”

“For me, It is extra important to wInside the wrestle and The biggest Method to wInside the wrestle,” the 29-yr-previous former Rizin champion said. “How I am going to current my expertise, my [evolution] from my final wrestle to this wrestle, that, to me, Is An important. All this wrestleing is about evolving. Everyfactor for me, On this life, is about evolution. To be greater, To know greater, To exact greater.”

PROCHAZKA’S POSTFIGHT CELEBRATIONS Was legendary, Based mostly on the wrestleer’s shut good friend and enterprise companion, Michal Sauer. In the early days of his profession, Prochazka would throw wild events Adjust toing his bouts, full with loud music, dancing and heavy consuming. Prochazka was On The center of the jubilation.

“He was wild at these events,” Sauer said. “Not solely dancing, however everyphysique was watching him. He is Barely bit like Conor McGregor. Everyphysique is Aware of that he’s Inside the room. He was very noisy. He likes consideration. Not solely events, however he appreciated consideration All by way of the place he went. He was A very niceny man and everyphysique appreciated it, as a Outcome of he made some nice.”

At A Sort of events, Prochazka, then in his early 20s, drank champagne from a used vacuum hose. At anfullly different, he guzzled vodka out of the gasoline line of a good friend’s motorcycle, which had its engine on.

Two titles are on The road at UFC 275. Glover Teixeira defends his mild heavyweight championship in the direction of quick-rising Jiri Prochazka, and Valentina Shevchenko goals To primarytain her flyweight dominance going when she faces Taila Santos. Plus, strawweights Zhang Weili and Joanna Jedrzejczyk meet in a rematch of the 2020 wrestle of the yr.

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UFC 275: Teixeira vs. Prochazka
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Prelims: 8 p.m. ET on ESPN2/ESPN+
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“I really feel he was tprevious he’s immortal,” Sauer said with Amusing. “Mightbe he nonetheless assumes that.”

When he was youthful, Prochazka assaulted life a lot Inside the method he assaults MMA opponents now: recklessly, with little cas quickly asrn for his safety and properly-being. Prochazka said as a teen he sought out road wrestles virtually weekly, Getting into Higher than 100 of them in his life. When that wasn’t enough, he joined a hooligan membership tied to Prochazka’s native soccer group, FC Zbrojovak Brno. The membership would arrange group road wrestles with memberships that undertakeed fullly different groups.

Prochazka said although he as quickly as participated in 30-on-30 brawls with the hooligan group, he regrets Collaborating in these scraps now. As A toddler, Prochazka grew up with unbridled power — a nightmare for his mom and father and teachers — and continuously seemed for an outlet. Wright hereas wrestleing On The roads as a teen, he fell in love with turning into One of the biggest wrestleer and Arising with methods to win by way of trial and error. Being a hooligan was Only A rather extra regulated iteration of that.

“That was The subsequent step On this wrestleing lifetype,” Prochazka said. “I used to be Only about Looking for myself, On A daily basis. All of the time. The particular person, We’re nonetheless Looking for ourselves. That is all.”

When he was 17 yrs previous, Prochazka started teaching in Muay Thai, with a Little bit of karate and judo mixed in. It was the construction he needed. He Did not Want to wrestle On The road anyextra To reinforce his expertise to be One of the biggest. This was An alternative To tevery and compete in an Much extra managed setting.

Prochazka finally acquired into MMA and made his professional dehowever in 2012. He was far extra self-disciplined than earlier than, however tright here was nonetheless one factor lacking. Not prolonged after Prochazka misplaced to Abdul-Kerim Edilov in 2013, Hovezak launched his wrestleer A duplicate of “The E-book of the 5 Rings.” Hovezak was a coach on his Jetsaam group, which is led by Martin Karaivanov.

Hovezak said a martial arts coach gave him the book at age 15, and he althought it might unlock a door for Prochazka Inside the method it had for him. The book is properly-appreciated amongst enterprise people in Japan as a Outcome of its philosophies on worthwhile Could be utilized to enterprise and life, Regardless of The very Incontrovertible actuality that Musashi was writing about wrestleing — not in distinction to “The Artwork of Struggle” by Photo voltaic Tzu.

Jiri Prochazka carries ‘The E-book Of 5 Rings’ with him Almethods. Written by The japanese sphrasesman Miyamoto Musashi aspherical 1645, the textual content material is a manifesto on sphrasesmanship, strategy, and worthwhile. Jiri Prochazka

“Tright here is a lot of fact Inside the book And tright here is A clear order,” Hovezak said. “It’d be used For every wrestleing and on A daily basis life.”

After studying the book and digesting Musashi’s phrases, Prochazka said he started To change his life virtually immediately. Once a self-professionalfessed “very, very, very wild man,” Prochazka started to undertake Musashi’s Bushido guidelines. The textual content material, written Inside the 1640s, incorporates five books — Earth, Water, Hearth, Wind and Void — and Musashi writes about cas quickly aspts on martial arts, management, life guidelines and thoughtsset.

Prochazka said he Does not Adjust to an arranged religion. Instead, he has undertakeed “The E-book of the 5 Rings” as his Bible, Torah or Koran.

“For me, It is one factor like that,” Prochazka said. “But religion, I do not confacetr in religion, as a Outcome of The trendy human has to know Tright here Is not A religion. Tright here’s simply power — power of notion. What you confacetr, that’s your religion. And it Could be no matter. That is my angle of view.”

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Sauer said he first noticed a change in Prochazka when the wrestleer started sermonizing to him and fullly different people Close to him about life philosophies.

“He started To converse to me and fullly different pals about how We ought to almethods stay,” Sauer said. “Now, he was a clever man And commenced To inform us how We ought to almethods Do this and why this. That was The Most very important change. It was like zero to 100, a change of 180 levels. We Did not know what was the matter with him.

“He is dwelling the Bushido method and everyfactor and he needed his particular personal pals to stay The identical or comparable. He needed the people aspherical him to be The identical method.”

The man who as quickly as drank booze from a car’s gasoline line was now preverying A greater Method to conduct oneself. Prochazka had finally found what he was Looking for in life — a method and set off to channel all of his power into one factor constructive and civilized. He now reserves all of that inner turmoil for the UFC Octin the pastn, a lot to the chagrin of opponents. Since that loss to Edilov, Prochazka is 22-1-1 with an unimaginable 21 finishes.

“It was a full change of myself as a Outcome of I used to be anfullly different particular person,” Prochazka said. “I am glad for that. I am primarytaining that chaos from the youngest time in myself nonetheless. But I even Want to level out it simply Inside the cage. Simply to the cage, straight to the victory.”



Jiri Prochazka explains his bushido spirit And the method he modified after studying The E-book Of 5 Rings by Miyamoto Musashi.

PROCHAZKA WAS IN the nook of the Rizin ring, waving his arms again-and-forth. It was a few hours earlier than Rizin 20 in December 2019. Other wrestleers have been Inside the ring, warming up or going by way of their stroll-by way ofs earlier than competing. The Asakura brfullly differents — Kai and Mikuru — have been Performing some mild sparring. Behind them, Prochazka, the reigning mild heavyweight champion On the time, was standing Inside the nook, motioning like he was working in place with out shifting his legs.

Kashiwagi, the Rizin matchmaker, said Prochazka Would usually do “bizarre factors” like That in wrestle week, collectively with meditating Inside the locker room earlier than strolling to the ring.

“I as quickly as requested him what he was doing Through the ring look at and he said, ‘I am really feeling right now’s environment And the method the ring really feels by way of my physique — do you understand?'” Kashiwagi said. “I had no cas quickly aspt how To answer that.”

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Prochazka is quirky, however nDefinitely one of It’s with out set off. He put ons his hair in A singular, extreme ponytail that has Discover your self to be a signature look. Prochazka said his hairtype is an homage to a mongkhon, the headpiece that Muay Thai wrestleers put on Through their prewrestle Wai Kru ritual.

Since 2017, Prochazka has stayd in a cottage about Half-hour outfacet of his housetpersonal of Brno, near a reservoir. Sauer described it as “The center of nowright here,” in a forest with no entry road. Sauer said he stays solely five minutes amethod from Prochazka, But when It is snowing, he Can’t drive to his good friend’s house Beset off of lack of roadmethod. The cottage has Electricity and fullly different amenities, collectively with A spot to work out and practice — which Prochazka calls a “playgspherical” — however no gasoline. He will get his water from a properly.

“I am simply doing What’s important to be One of the biggest,” Prochazka said. “If I’ve to stay like that, assume like that and eat like that, I am going to simply do that. Beset off I would like that — that’s all.”

Training has launched some challenges for Prochazka, Sauer said. Regardless of all these yrs of wrestleing On The road, Prochazka has misplaced any want To harm somephysique who Isn’t his UFC opponent. Sauer said Prochazka has injured his palms and wrists on a quantity of events as a Outcome of he doesn’t Want to tightly ball his fists by way ofout sparring so he Will not inflict any undue damage on groupmates.

“It’s Barely bit bizarre,” Sauer said. “He doesn’t Have to harm people, however he’s wrestleing in In all probability the most dangerous sport On the earth. That is the change in him.”

Prochazka’s wrestleing type runs counter to that, and It is the outlet for his inner chaos, based on this angle: “assault, not defend — every transfer Have to be assaulting.” He acquired caught by a quantity of huge punches in his final wrestle in the direction of Dominick Reyes in Might 2021, however stored shifting forward till he landed a spinning again elbow at 4:29 of the second spherical that knocked Reyes unconscious.

“Some mans, they take that Choose It is having fun with — like MMA is having fun with,” Prochazka said. “No. For me, I am taking that like Technique of [the] warrior. It’s about life and demise…. You’d like to be One hundred Laptop Pc worthwhile Do You’d like to Want to win. Do You’d like to Want to win, Which means You will Have The power to stay. Do You’d like to [do] not, you die.”

But Prochazka May even be not afraid of dropping. He said he launched himself from these fears as a Outcome of That is all An factor of his journey, Regardless of The outcomes. He plans on training martial arts — and making use of Bushido guidelines — prolonged after his wrestleing profession is over. The thoughts, Prochazka said, Should be like a weapon. During a wrestle, the objective is for the thoughts to be free and have cas quickly aspts spring into it, Ensuing in assaults. Prochazka acknowledges he has not acquiredten to That time but.

“It is not straightforward,” he said. “It’s terribly exhausting To understand that, to be on that diploma. To be so free and see the factors like that…. That is the method. That is The tactic to the graspy. I am nonetheless rising. I am nonetheless working.”

If he beats Teixeira on Saturday, the UFC title Can be The subsequent milestone in what has Discover your self to be a lifeprolonged voyage, one shaped by martial arts however One which additionally incorporates greater meaning. Hovezak said Prochazka doesn’t want simply the belt however “An cas quickly asptl wrestle, An cas quickly asptl martial art — that’s our method.”

“He needed To Obtain some graspship or be a grasp of martial arts,” Sauer said. “Be a grasp in his life, in his thoughts. It is not Regarding the belt, as a Outcome of that’s Just one factor. It’s the journey, It is the method. I do not know if I want to say a samurai journey, however That is his Technique of being a grasp of what he does. The belt Is Among The numerous tarwill get. Not The primary and solely goal, however One of many tarwill get.”

And fullly different people tarwill get, these goals are pushed by the phrases of Musashi, written almost 4 centuries in the past.

“The book is a information for us and we create our personal strategy,” Hovezak said. “I confacetr that after yrs Jiri will write An identical book Based mostly on which The mannequin new wrestleers will Adjust to.”

Source: https://www.espn.com/mma/story/_/id/34052661/inside-jiri-prochazka-warrior-path-soccer-hooligan-ufc-title-contender