Alex Pereira is your new UFC light heavyweight champion, but he hasn’t made it without a bit of controversy.
The Brazilian made his 205-pound debut at UFC 295 at Madison Square Garden on Saturday, defeating Jiří Procházka by second-round TKO. It was a wild fight between two former champions, but then Pereira took Procházka to the ground with a right hook.
Procházka tried to get up, but was hit in the head with several elbows. As he fell behind again, referee Marc Goddard, known for his early stoppages of play, said: called out the fightgiving Pereira his second UFC belt in seven fights with the promotion.
Several UFC fighters were unhappy with Goddard’s decision.
That was an interruption far too early!!!
— Dominick Cruz (@DominickCruz) November 12, 2023
Happy Alex won, but that was definitely an early stoppage
– Terrance McKinney (@twrecks155) November 12, 2023
Nonsense, stop early!!! MARC GODDARD DOES IT AGAIN!!! WE ARE FIGHTERS, LET’S FIGHT!!! #UFC295
— Merab “The Machine” Dvalishvili (@MerabDvalishvil) November 12, 2023
One person who agreed with Goddard, however, was Procházka.
“In the end, I think it was the right thing to do. I was out,” Procházka said in his post-fight interview.
UFC President Dana White supported this account at the following press conference, saying: “If…” [Procházka] says it’s not like that, it definitely isn’t.
Another repetition made Goddard’s decision a little more understandable. Procházka clearly faltered after Pereira’s right hook, and there was little he could do about it as he fell backwards and took an inhumane punishment from his opponent.
The defeat sets Procházka’s return from a devastating shoulder injury off to a bad start, but the Czech fighter showed the skills that made him a champion a year and a half ago until everything went wrong.