Nippon Joho: Aftermath of PRIDE GP


By Stephen Martinez Jun 27, 2005
TOKYO, June 27 — By now many readers already checked out Sunday’s PRIDE Middleweight Grand Prix results along with the videos and reports provided by Masa Fukui and his half-twin brother Akira Fujimoto.

While these two have been talking all weekend about parties and girls and covering the event for the fans out there, I, on the other hand, have nothing interesting to say about my PRIDE weekend. No parties. No girls waiting for me before or after the show.

In fact the only interesting thing that happened to me this weekend was the fact that I spent close to two hours on the train to go to Saitama Super Arena to catch PRIDE. Same way when I come back home after another two hours on the train. Now the bad thing is I usually fall sleep on the train just to wake up and find myself still on the middle of the train line on my way there or coming back home. The good thing is, despite all the pain I need to endure to go to Saitama, I really enjoy this sport and I won’t change this opportunity to see a live PRIDE show for anything.

Anyway, let’s break this special edition of the Nippon Joho with some PRIDE GP matches that caught my attention. This is not a play-by-play of what happened Sunday. But since I was checking the show live while taking my pictures for I got to see some stuff inside the arena that might not be available on Friday’s American tape-delayed Pay-Per-View.

Is Kharitonov a Machine or Rizzo Overrated?

The first bout on the card placed the new Russian sensation Sergei Kharinotov against former UFC top contender Pedro Rizzo. Now this was Kharinotov seventh fight inside PRIDE and he’s quickly climbing the ranks of popularity among Japanese fans. He got a huge reaction from the crowd, while Rizzo received the usual “welcome to Japan” treatment from the audience.

Kharinotov only needed two minutes to brutalize Rizzo with strikes while Rizzo looked slow, out of shape and without rhythm. I think the biggest mistake on Rizzo’s part was taking two years off just to step inside the ring against a top fighter in his comeback. Meanwhile, Kharinotov is just getting better and better with each fight, especially with his striking.

Quite interesting is the fact that Kharinotov told the Japanese media after his brutal knockout of Murilo Rua back at PRIDE Total Elimination 2004 that he doesn’t like striking and he would rather consider himself a grappler. Kharinotov is likely in the running for a title shot against the winner of Mirko Filipovic and Fedor Emelianenko, or probably a rematch with Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira to determinate who become the new No. 1 contender.

The Koji Fuse Report

Koji Fuse is one of Japan’s top mixed martial arts journalists. He usually writes reports and articles for SportNavi Japan along with other local MMA magazines. Between Fuse articles we can always find a pre-PRIDE show report where he picks the winner of each bout along with some interesting inside information about the fighters and the possible outcome. From this article I got some interesting piece of information regarding UFC and PRIDE dealings to exchange fighters between promotions.

According to Fuse’s article, PRIDE offered Kharinotov to Zuffa for the last UFC 53. Fuse explained the deal was to place Kharinotov against Tim Sylvia as part of the exchange deal between both UFC and PRIDE, but Sylvia turned down the offer. This gave DSE the idea to place Rizzo against Kharinotov in PRIDE because Rizzo is considered an ex-UFC fighter.

Now I don’t know the other side of the story as to why Sylvia turned down the fight versus Kharinotov in UFC just to take later a fight versus Assuerio Silva at the upcoming UFC 54. Probably he was told not to take the fight against a not well know fighter like Kharinotov. But then he goes and takes the fight with Assuerio, so this doesn’t make sense.

Perhaps Sylvia didn’t want anything to do with the Russian fighter inside the cage. Whatever it is, this is quite interesting because we were really close to have for the first time a UFC vs. PRIDE fight inside the octagon. But I guess we will need to wait a little bit more.

Shogun is the Real Deal

If I need to find a word to describe the Mauricio Rua versus Antonio Rogerio Nogueira match it would be “war.” Both fighters came at each other hard with strikes and gave us the best bout of the night — and probably one of the best matches this year so far.

Shogun is red hot in Japan right now. The crowd seems to love him, especially the girls and PRIDE knows this. His Chute Boxe style is the perfect combination between aggression and excitement for the fans, but a total nightmare to every opponent.

Rodrigo Nogueira impressed the hell out of me with his striking; he landed good punches and even knocked down Shogun early in the first round. Now I see some controversy regarding the decision floating around between our very own forum users at, and while I’m not a fight expert I see Shogun winning the match fair and square.

I don’t take any credit away from Nogueira, since he also did a hell of a fight but the biggest Brazilian Top Team weakness showed up once again in this fight and this is more likely what cost the fight to Nogueira in the judges’ cards.

BTT fighters in PRIDE, with Arona being the exception, show little improvement in the wrestling/takedown department. I counted the same clinch trip from Shogun to Nogueira like six times with pretty much all of them giving Shogun top position. Most of the time when the fight was on the ground we found Shogun scoring punches from the top or scoring diving punches over Nogueira. So in other words Rua did a lot more than Nogueira to take the fight down and work from there.

Sure Nogueira had some nice submission attempts but Shogun answered with flying punches, stomps, soccer kicks and sheer aggression from inside Nogueira guard.

With Quinton Jackson pretty much gone or taking a break from PRIDE, I see both Shogun and Nogueira taking a spot next to Arona as the top three fighters inside the PRIDE middleweight division behind champion Wanderlei Silva.

<h2>Fight Finder</h2>