Jiri Prochazka was a bit of a brawler back in the day. He is definitely not the only fighter on the UFC roster who started out scrapping on the streets but his journey to a light heavyweight title shot with the promotion has not been a conventional one.

Prochazka clearly enjoyed his time fighting for Rizin and was the light heavyweight champion before signing with the UFC. But his interest in Asian culture and martial arts dates back to the very start of his martial arts journey.

Initially Prochazka saw martial arts as an outlet for energy levels which would frequently get him into trouble,

“When I was in high school I had so much energy and there was nowhere I could put it so I started to fight in the streets, in the clubs wherever. I had no idea what I wanted to do in my life but one thing I knew was I wanted to do some sport, professionally where I could use my energy. That’s why I started in martial arts because that was helpful for me I think it saved me,” he told UFC.com.

Tradition and culture

It was at this point that his coach decided the student needed to learn about the traditions and cultures of martial arts as well as the techniques. He gave him Five Rings, which was written by written by the Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi in the 17th century, and it had a profound effect on Prochazka,

“When it came to my training my coach Jaroslav Hovezak game me Five Rings. It was an important moment because it gave me some rules to my life,” Prochazka recalls.

Hovezak believes that reading the book had a positive impact on Prochazka,

“It sure helps a lot (because) he is a spiritually based and open minded person. He adopts a great deal of this mindset. He knows exactly what he wants to go for.”

Spiritual journey

Prochazka returns to Asia next month to challenge light heavyweight champion Glover Teixeira at the Singapore Indoor Stadium. The fight headlines UFC 275 and the significance of the location will not be lost on the 29 year old.

The Czech fighter says his obsession with Asian culture and martial arts days back to the very start of his competitive career,

“From this time I started to learn about Chinese culture, Japanese samurai ideas and (started) on a spiritual journey. The timing, the rhythm, how to start to use my true power.”

There is no question that Prochazka has power. He is riding a 12 fight winning streak and 11 of this victories have come by way of KO or TKO.

He might be a philosophical fighter with a deep understanding of the history and traditions of martial arts but Prochazka is, above all things, a winner. Victory at UFC 275 would earn him the light heavyweight title and he says he will be ‘ready for anything’,

“With this body, with this mind, with this soul, with every breath I want to win. I’m ready for anything.”