UFC Fighter Focus X2: Sean Strickland and Jiri Prochazka

Fighter Focus Sean Strickland And Jiri Prochazka

As we all float back down towards Earth after UFC 261 hit us right in the feels in a variety of ways, it is hard to move on. I will be honest. It was like a Spring fling or something.

Hey, I cried! I suppose it didn’t hurt that we crushed the night from a betting perspective. I was the biggest UFC fan that I knew before I started betting on MMA and for the first year making predictions, I let that fandom get in the way of making proper decisions. I’m much better about not doing that anymore but it does happen, and we are improving at identifying these mistakes before they are made.

I had to completely throw my fandom off the balcony and I felt like for the first time in a long time, UFC 261 for me represented a nearly perfect night for the fans as well as our bettors. We could have done without the Chris Weidman leg break and that might have won another for us and we were not right about Rong.

And the crowd!

I was happy that it was happening because I think it could be a step in the right direction. We will see, I guess. But as a fan and handicapper, I was more focused on the matchups.

I didn’t go into it with any expectations and the show blew me away. I miss about 1 UFC a year so they become quite normal but this past Saturday night was anything but normal. The UFC nailed it. They really did.

We have to move on, though, and what better way than with a couple of highly intelligent sadistic psychopaths?!

Please Note:
This is a loose use of the word, by the way, so Sean or Jiri please don’t hunt me down, put me in the trunk of your car, beat me like I’m Joe Pesci in the Mojave Desert, and bury my body. Totally not psychopaths, these two.

Seriously, though, if you listen to Sean talk, then you will understand what I am talking about. Both Strickland and the Czech Republic’s Jiri Prochazka are top 5 if not championship level fighters, in my opinion.

That is saying a lot but you will see on Saturday night – just watch.

Let’s dig a little deeper on each fighter and get to know them better. That way we can handicap their fights and more effectively locate value within the various betting lines available.

Jiri Prochazka

How can you bet against Tong Po?

This guy is a madman and he fights like a madman. Sometimes the wildest guys can get in there and clam up but Jiri Prochazka is a fighter who can and will throw anything at any given time.

If you are like me and you like to predict what your opponent is going to do then guys like Jiri are going to give you a lot of trouble. Looking back on some of my most difficult and frustrating sparring matches over the years have been with those Bruce Lee types of guys where the only thing that’s predictable is unpredictability.

Jiri is a massive guy for the division.

Some would argue that he has the perfect frame for the division. I would love to see against the champ, Jan Blachowicz. Poland vs the Czech Republic!

Before we get there, though, Jiri is going to have to make it past Dominick Reyes. Reyes came to fame in the UFC when he took Jon Jones to a very close 5 round decision. Outside of that fight, though, he hasn’t been that impressive to me or I should say that he hasn’t defeated the best opponents.

Cannonier and Weidman are both Middleweights and he went to a split with Volkan who Jiri just knocked out. That’s about it for Reyes’s big wins. Jiri Prochazka has many more fights than the 12-2 Dominick Reyes.

The Czech star is 27-3! He has finished Bellator champ Vadim Nemkov and in his first ever UFC fight, smashed up the gatekeeper, Volkan Oezdemir pretty badly. Jiri speaks several languages and has been involved with combat sports and martial arts since he was a teen.

Reyes, conversely, got into MMA recently after the NFL didn’t call post college football. He is obviously a massive talent but I think his lack of experience technically will catch up to him here when he fights someone else who is just as big and lengthy in there.

The price tag on Pro isn’t expensive either. I thought it would be (-180) or more but he has hung around (-125) all week over at BetOnline.AG. I am certainly making the play here on the much better martial artist.

Please Note:
The betting odds have an implied probability of 57%. I think Jiri wins 2 out of 3 times the two men fight. That gives us a 10% edge on the sportsbooks and we should bet more money if the edge is larger. A 5% edge is about as small as we want to go. If you don’t have that, then just move along to the next opportunity. You will find one soon enough.

For every 5% of an edge you have on the sportsbooks, that is a 1 unit play. I like this rule and if you’re good or following someone who is good, then the compound interest will make you even more money over time.

The Bet
Prochazka

Sean Strickland

When I said both men were crazy, I meant it. Jiri, even though he holds a great deal of technical ability, prefers to fight with his hands down and test his chin against his opponent’s. To me, that is pretty crazy but the guy is 27-3 and fighting in a UFC main event and I’m over here battling sciatica at 39 years old.

As much of a wildman as Jiri appears to be, Sean is twice that if not more. He doesn’t try to hide who he is in the slightest bit and you have to respect that. Some people may not like it but they have no choice but to respect it.

Please Note:
Sean came up in Southern California in an abusive household and had a lot of anger problems which led to him being kicked out of every school he went to. At 14, he found martial arts, and it saved his life. He will be the first one to tell you that if he had not found this niche at such a young age, he would most likely be dead or in jail. Sean turned professional at just 16 years old and was the King of the Cage champion before his 21st birthday.

Fast forward to 2015. Sean defended his title belt in KOTC 5 times and won his first couple of fights inside of the Octagon.  He was 15-0 and suffered his first defeat to one of the best fighters in the division at the time, Argentina’s Santiago Ponzinibbio.

His next loss was the the future if not present welterweight GOAT, Kamaru Usman. Then he got caught by a crazy kick against the Capoeira master, Dos Santos. That’s 3 losses at the age of 27 and all are understandable.

Sean is still improving as a fighter and has the ability to challenge for a world title one day.

Then, the unthinkable happens. Sean was hit by a car while he was on his motorcycle. It knocked him out, and he had multiple injuries including a knee that would never be the same.

He was out of action for just over 2 years. His first fight back was against Jack Marshman this past Halloween and Sean styled on brawler, in more ways than one!

How can you not love that? Sean has some excellent hands. He didn’t really show them off in that fight as he was having some fun with Marshman, playing with his food, if you will.

In his next fight, Strickland got the dangerous up and coming grappler Brendan Allen. I thought Allen had a good chance in this fight and the oddsmakers did as well lining it more or less even.

Sean Strickland simply proved otherwise. He showed why he is top 10 if not top 5 material in the UFC’s Welterweight Division by boxing up Brendan badly and getting him out of there inside of two rounds.

Saturday night, Sean Strickland gets a fight with the somewhat underrated Pole, Jotko.

Krys Jotko is a tall broad shouldered guy who is strong in the clinch and decent at striking. His wrestling isn’t that strong, though, and that means he will have to stand with Strickland.

Jotko is good in most areas of the game but not great anywhere. Since the wrestling matches up, this will be a striking match likely dominated by Strickland. Styles make fights, though, and Jotko likes to make things ugly.

If he can wear out Strickland in the clinch, he has a chance to steal this one on the judges’ scorecards.

It isn’t much of a chance, though, in my opinion. Strickland is pretty freaking big himself even though he came up from Welterweight.

Jotko has been finished with strikes by Brad Tavares who is a great fighter but not known for his knockout ability. Sean can certainly get the finish here but it’s a tough bet considering Jotko’s “fighting by anti-fighting style”.

We will be in the small cage and this will favor the forward fighter Strickland.

I think he will be teeing off with Jotko’s back to the cage much like he did in the fight with Allen and that’s how Krys was caught against Tavares.

(+200) for the Strickland finish is a solid number. Let’s just throw half of a unit on it, though, because I think we only have about a 40% chance at a Strickland knockout.

The Bet
Strickland Wins Inside the Distance

In Conclusion

Sean Strickland is a bad man. That’s all I am going to say. I think highly dominant wrestlers like Kamaru Usman or Colby Covington are going to give Sean a lot of trouble as they do everyone and I worry when he fights a guy with huge knockout power.

That is because Strickland loves to fight maybe to a fault at times.

  • He can be more technical than his opponents but still brawl with them and that is a worry but not a worry against Jotko who has just 2 TKO finishes in 22 professional wins.
  • Strickland has the technique and the power edge here along with the wrestling to keep it standing so I like him to get it done.

The finish prop is not one I am ultra confident in so just half of a unit wagered to win 1 is the play. We are in the small cage and I don’t think Jotko is going to want to throw down and if he can’t get his back off the cage, he will be forced into it.

In the main event, I really like Jiri Prochazka here.

I know both men are giants and incredibly fast but we are getting a good price. If it weren’t for the (-125), I would either pass on the fight altogether or look for another valuable betting angle.

Dom Reyes is also coming off of a terrible TKO loss where he looked worse than ever. His team is made up of his brothers, a bunch of yes men I’m sure.

Think of the arguments too just like West Coast Customs.

Reyes can surely win but I still wouldn’t regret at least a 2 unit play here on Jiri to get the win at (-125)!

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Mike Pruitt / Author

Mike has been covering sports professionally since 2017 but on the amateur scene for 25 years since when he was 12. Before the internet changed the world, he would keep detailed statistical box scores of NFL and NBA contests, write recaps, and voluntarily commentate games and fights alone in his room. Mike's military experience, Bachelors Degree, and employment thereafter were always rooted in engineering, science, and teaching. Now he enjoys being able to express himself through writing about football, golf, and car racing among other sports but most of all fighting as his life has been rooted in mixed martial arts including competing and teaching for the past 15 years.