Welcome back to “3 Up 3 Down” our version of power rankings! UFC Vegas 25 provided another night of spectacular fighters and fights. Here are the three trending up after Saturday.
Ladies and gentleman, we have a new #1 contender in the Light Heavyweight Division and if he continues on his path will become a superstar! Former Rizing LHW champ Jiri Prochazka defeated former title contender Dominick Reyes in brutal fashion with the third ever spinning elbow in UFC History at 4:29 of Round 2. Prochazka, who is from the Czech Republic, and touts Eastern Philosophies from Japan and China, fights in an awkward yet exciting standup fashion, throwing shots from unique angles and leaving himself vulnerable to shots as well.
The fight looked competitive at first, as Reyes was finding a home for his patented counter left straight, but as time continued, Prochazka’s pace and striking prowess seemed to overwhelm Reyes. This makes for the second straight brutal KO of a former title challenger (he defeated Volkan Oezdemir via KO in his promotional debut). With out question, he is the clear cut #1 contender and will await the victor of the Jan Blachowicz/Glover Teixeira fight. At this point, I would favor Prochazka against either fighter.
Aside from Jiri Prochazka, the night truly belonged to Georgian MMA, and I do not mean the Peach State. The Republic of Georgia has long been known as an amateur wrestling hotbed, but two of their sons fought brilliantly earning impressive victories. In the co-main event, Giga Chikadze soundly defeated respected featherweight veteran Cub Swanson with the “Giga kick” a/k/a a liver kick. Bas Rutten would have been proud!
This marks Chikadze’s second straight stoppage victory, as he suddenly appears to be advancing his skills exponentially, to where he has become a legitimate threat to stop fights as opposed to the grinding decision winner he first was upon joining the UFC. Giga has earned the right to compete against another top 10 featherweight and the fight will surely be interesting.
The second Georgian (technically he fought earlier in the card) who shined Saturday night was bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili. The Serra-Longo product defeated Cody Stamman in an entertaining back and forth grapple fest. Dvalishvili is well on his way for setting divisional and promotional records for takedowns and unquestionably exhibits the most impressive gas tank in the sport. Simply stated – you cannot outwork or tire this man. He is constant smiles, energy and pressure. While his wrestling pedigree has always been strong, it appears his time with Ray Longo is starting to pay dividends, as his striking is starting to catch up with his grappling prowess. I truly believe Dvalishvili is a future title contender, and a handful for anyone in the Bantamweight division.