He is the fifth Czech in the prestigious UFC organization. MMA fighter Jiří "Denisa" Procházka is currently one of the most successful Czech MMA fighters. He recently demonstrated his merits to the fans of this martial art with his first UFC-led match with Volkan Oezdemir, whom he defeated despite his initial hesitation. This made him the currently most celebrated contemporary fighter. In his interview with LP-life.com, Jiří opened up not only about his passion for sports, but also talked about what pleases or bothers him outside the cage.
How are you feeling?
All the same. I still feel the same I felt the day of the match.
But you must have been full of adrenaline already...
No. I don't differentiate anymore. Why even? And I'm glad for it. I'm glad that the work was done well, that we did everything right there. But I'm becoming more and more aware now that the work is still ahead of me at the UFC, and I'm already looking forward to the next match.
Most of the MMA fighters I've talked to are full of emotions, I feel barely any emotion from you. How did you achieve this inner peace?
It is necessary to be constantly aware of it and examine it in every situation, during the match and outside the match. In the end, one still comes to the conclusion that the present moment is still the same. And only you yourself will turn it into a good or bad situation, a small or a big match. No. Every moment is the same. Or rather, every moment is not the same, but the peace is, in every one of those moments.
You aren't even thirty yet, and I feel like I'm talking to a man in his fifties. Do you ever feel that, thanks to your philosophy, you have acquired a completely different wisdom from your peers, for example?
It's true, but it must be matched by experience. Sometimes I behave too much like a smartass, but in life it is necessary to gather experience, wisdom and build on it. Sometimes I run into a bump in this regard, so I'm happy to spend time with older people rather than alone. I spend a lot of time with coaches, I can absorb more of it this way.
When did you decide that you will live for martial arts?
Twenty years ago, when I started doing Thai boxing. I told myself that this is my dream, I will put my all into it, I want to be a professional fighter. I did everything I could to get paid for it.
When you were little, you wanted to be an archaeologist…
That's true, it was in second or first grade. And back then I had been inspired by Jurassic Park. (laughs) When I started doing fighting, I was inspired by fights, beatings, Thai boxers beating each other up.
You said you were a troublemaker when you were little. Did you dish out trouble, or get into it?
We always dished it out. And we fought all the time.
You never got your ass handed to you?
Once, and then I immediately came for revenge. (laughs)
How old were you?
Between fifteen and eighteen years old.
Many such boys run into trouble with the law then. Did you ever get into any?
I did. I was on probation too for about a year.
For aggravated battery harm and disorderly conduct.
Are people afraid of you?
I don't know, I'll leave it to them.
Do people provoke you in public, for example at bars?
Not so much anymore.
Are they scared now?
I hate to say they are scared, but I believe that people should have respect for each other. I always wanted to get that, even in fights at clubs. Above all, that's what I've always wanted. To have the reputation of being the greatest fighter, and for the local fighters to bow their heads and acknowledge me.
Have you ever fought for a woman?
And how does that feel?
You have a higher goal...
How are you dealing with fame?
It's always the same.
It's not, people recognize you in the street, want to take pictures.
But for me, nothing changes. I'll repeat myself, but with my trainer Jaroslav Hovězák we have told each other that we will always remain the same and nothing will change for us. For me, nothing changes. Water still tastes the same, the air is still the same, and those are the important things for me. Not to change one's base stance.
And if I did accidentally turn into some kind of a big-headed idiot, it'd be a failure for me. It's about what you stand for. When you say you want to be a certain way, then whatever happens, I'll stick to it. Period.
How old were you when you started college?
Two years ago.
What led you to it?
I had time between training sessions and my coach was asking what I was going to do, and told me to go to college. I didn't want to. Then the former principal of my high school began to talk me into it too. So I finally said, "Okay, I'm going."
I'm going there to gain some information, for enrichment, not for some degree.
Yes, but you also have to think about the future, you can't fight in a cage forever. Do you have any idea what you will do next?
Yes, I have an idea, but I don't want to talk about it now. I want to focus on fighting.
You said you didn't have a dream opponent. But everyone must have a dream opponent…
My dream opponent is myself. I was thinking about who I would like to fight and train with. For me, fighting is mainly about moving forward, improving towards one's ultimate form.
What do you think the ultimate form looks like? In your last match, in the first round it looked like you were about to get massacred...
It seemed so, but the ultimate possible mastery is to be absolutely vulnerable, and yet still win easily. I try to apply these principles in the fight. It is not yet at the level I would like it to be, but I know where I am going and what idea I would like to push. It's not like that yet, but I'm going for it. I have to break through. Sometimes through unpleasant hits, but what I was doing there is already getting close.
From what you say, I have the mental image that you'll defeat your opponent with a thought. You don't have your hands up protecting your head and let yourself be beaten…
I didn't let myself be beaten, I had everything under control throughout the whole match. Except for the few blows I got that shook me. But I was ready for it.
What about injuries?
Everything is okay.
Have you never had any?
I have, but all these are just opportunities to get stronger.
Do you have any extra insurance?
I have sports insurance.
Does this mean that if someone breaks your leg, do you get money for a new pergola?
Probably, yes. I pay for my insurance, but it's not worth thinking about.
Are you afraid of something?
That I will not live the life I have chosen.
And what kind of life is that?
The journey of a warrior and the fulfillment of my idea of it. A constant path to mastery.
Lots of people would say having good job, having a comfortable life…
And when they have that, then what? I already have it. I have the best job I've ever dreamed of. I have a great car, I don't care that I don't have a Ferrari, I have a house…
Do you not want a Ferrari?
I believe that'll come too. When I have the means, I'll buy a Porsche, but I won't be losing my shit over it.
And what about a partner? You've just been through a breakup...
That's another goal, to have a family one day. I still put all my passion and love into fighting, into that journey.
Why did your relationship end? Because you put more of your love into sports?
Probably yes. She is a great partner, selfless, she will do anything for you. I'm glad she was with me, but now I have my mission, and I have to fulfill that.
Any woman will have to be very selfless for you. Submit to you, your training…
What does your mom think about fighting? They tend to get very worried for their sons…
She was always scared.
How does she view it?
She understands it now, she understands it already. I've already taught her that she has to support me, no matter what happens, and stand by me. There used to be a fear, that I shouldn't do it. And I should do something else.
Does she go see your matches?
In the Czech Republic she saw most of them.
What about you and nature?
I tune in to nature. You can feel so much more in a forest. When you're more sensitive to nature, it's an amazing connection.
You said you'd like to go somewhere by the sea. Aren't you afraid of the coronavirus?
I don't believe in that too much. I respect it, but I don't bother much with it.
Thanks to MMA, you travel a lot. In addition to training, do you ever have time to get to know the country you are in? Do you enjoy getting to know it?
I do. In Japan, for example, I have been to matches ten times, but I knew very little about the country. My ex girlfriend Kamila knew it better than I did. I was at the hotel and I had to deal with my duties. And she traveled all throughout Japan from top to bottom.
When you finish your mission and reach your ultimate form, where will you go next? Will you find time to start a family and travel?
I believe so, for sure.
Are you really into some particular thing? Some people like to buy expensive clothes, shoes, watches, books, good food…
I like croissants. (laughs) But it must be the right time, it's not something to eat every day.
Where do they have the best croissants?
I don't know. (laughs) The last time I had one was in Abu Dhabi. They brought me one for breakfast and I thought I wouldn't have it, that I would get one to celebrate victory after the match. The coach came and told me not to be stupid, that you never know what will happen, there can be a plane crash or whatever. So I had it before the victory.
You have established your own clothing brand, BJP. What led you to this?
In the beginning, it was so that my fans would have something to buy. Now we have rebranded it as functional training underwear to satisfy my fans and fans of martial arts. All the clothes and supplements are the kind I personally try to use daily. It's nothing unnecessary, it's really purely functional things that you can really use. I found myself getting a lot of stupid stuff into my body, and they were useless. That's why even with supplements you only need to do the things that the body necessarily needs, and nothing more, then just a balanced diet.