All-Star Final Four Culminate PRIDE Grand Prix

Alternate Bout

Sep 7, 2006
Aleksander Emelianenko (Pictures) vs. Sergei Kharitonov (Pictures)

6’ 5”, 254 pounds, 25, Russia

BACKGROUND: Combat Sambo World Champion Aleksander Emelianenko (Pictures) trains out of the Red Devil Fight Club with Roman Zentsov (Pictures), Sergei Bytchkov, Martin Malkhasyan, Ibragim Magomedov (Pictures), Andrei Semenov (Pictures), Amar Suloev (Pictures) and his brother, reigning PRIDE heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko (Pictures).

Aleksander had trained as part of the Russian Top Team with RINGS veteran Volk Han and PRIDE veterans Iouri Kotchkine, Mikhail Illoukhine (Pictures), Andre Kopylov, Achmed Labasanov and Bazigit Atajev, but he and Fedor left for greener pastures with the Red Devils.

MMA CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Aleksander has fought outside PRIDE three times. He battled IVC 14 tournament semifinalist Angelo Araujo at the Inoki Bom-Ba-Ye 2003 show and beat the Brazilian big man via cut stoppage.

Emelianenko met veteran Carlos Barreto in the headliner of the M-1 Grand Prix in 2004 and beat him by decision. And last October, Aleksander and a handful of other PRIDE veterans competed in Holland. Dutchman Rene Rooze (Pictures) tried to bring his kickboxing skills to the Russian but he was knocked unconscious in less than 30 ticks.

PRIDE EXPERIENCE: 5-2. Aleksander made his PRIDE debut against former Chute Boxe fighter Assuerio Silva (Pictures). He traded with the large Brazilian striker and though he didn’t drop Assuerio (Aleksander was in lousy shape) he showed no fear, throwing heavy lumber while bringing Silva to the mat at will. Emelianenko had enough power to stop Silva’s takedown attempts and muscled several reversals that crashed the Chute Boxe fighter to the floor.

Silva turned it up a little in the second round and achieved mount and a rear-naked choke from behind, but Emelianenko did enough to fend off the choke. Aleksander won a split decision in a somewhat uninspired performance from both men.

Emelianenko returned to face part of the Australian “Twin Tigers” in the form of striker Matt Foki. Aleksander appeared to have improved his stamina and stopped Foki with a choke in the first round.

At the PRIDE Final Conflict show Emelianenko faced his greatest competition to date, the always-dangerous Mirko Filipovic (Pictures). It wasn’t long before the Russian fell victim to Filipovic’s patented high kick and he was put on the canvas.

He then stopped a pumped up James Thompson (Pictures). “Colossus” came out with a head of steam and took the Russian by surprise, but Emelianenko quickly subdued the battling Brit and sent him packing in the first round.

PRIDE Bushido 6 brought the challenge of another muscular big man — and it finished with similar results. Ricardo Morais (Pictures), affectionately known as “The Mutant,” had the size to challenge Emelianenko but that was it. In a fight that lasted less than 30 seconds, the Brazilian giant proved to be no match for the rising Russian star.

To finish the year, Emelianenko submitted Olympic judo gold medalist Pawel Nastula (Pictures) late in the first round at the PRIDE Shockwave ’05 show.

Emelianenko gave a battle to Josh Barnett (Pictures) in May, but a dislocated right thumb suffered in the first round made it difficult for him to execute and Barnett secured a keylock in the second round, eliminating the Russian from the tournament.

KHARITONOV: 6’ 4”, 220 pounds, 26, Moscow, Russia

BACKGROUND: Russian Sambo Champion Sergei Kharitonov (Pictures) trains with Volk Han and PRIDE veterans Iouri Kotchkine, Mikhail Illoukhine (Pictures), Andre Kopylov, Achmed Labasanov and Bazigit Atajev. He had trained with Fedor and Aleksander Emelianenko (Pictures) prior to their leaving for the Red Devil Fight Club. He carries a professional MMA record of 13-3-0.

MMA CAREER HIGHLIGHTS: Like most Russian fighters, Kharitonov has military training that provided him with the foundation to take it to the next level and compete in MMA.

He suffered a loss early in his career in 1998 at the Scandinavian NHB Championships, where he was stopped with strikes. He competed two years later in the Ukraine and won three bouts. Then he returned to dominate his opponents in the Tournament of Real Men 8. Kharitonov’s combined fight time for both bouts was under two minutes.

Kharitonov has been devoted to PRIDE since 2003, but in a surprising move he made a pit stop to submit Peter Mulder at a RINGS Russia event in August of ‘05.

PRIDE EXPERIENCE: 7-2. Sergei debuted in Japan against Jason Nobunaga. The Russian made quick work of his Aussie opponent, submitting him via armbar in less than three minutes. At PRIDE 27 he battled Cory Peterson (Pictures), who got in a few punches for his effort but was manhandled and submitted less than two minutes into the first round.

Kharitonov’s first big test was against Murilo Rua (Pictures) in the opening round of the PRIDE’s 2004 heavyweight tournament. “Ninja” looked heavy and out of shape, but this was possibly the best bout of the opening round. There was no feeling-out period here as Rua came out kicking and Kharitonov showed his heavy hands, tagging Murilo repeatedly.

Late in the round the Russian fighter took over, beating the Brazilian to the punch and picking apart his defense. Kharitonov caught Rua with a right hook to the head and finished him with a left uppercut.

Kharitonov pounded away at Dutchman Semmy Schilt (Pictures) and showed good control on the ground. He stopped Semmy with strikes late in the first round. Kharitonov then fought “Minotauro” in the Grand Prix semifinals. He showed his skills against the former PRIDE champion and continued to surprise many with his composure. The fight went the distance but Kharitonov fully established himself as a legitimate threat for the title in the heavyweight division.

Choi Mu Bae fell victim to the Russian’s strikes at PRIDE 29 and then he sent Pedro Rizzo (Pictures) packing. Last October, Kharitonov had his hands full but swayed the judges and won a split decision over Fabricio Werdum (Pictures).

At PRIDE 31, the Russian striker dislocated his shoulder in the first round of his bout with Alistair Overeem (Pictures) and was completely dominated by the Dutchman.

MY PICK: For me, the vision this bout conjures is right out of a cartoon. Like when an elevator is plummeting out of control rather than register floor numbers it says “is this trip really necessary?”

All I see is pain here. This one should be a real bloodbath and I question whether the winner will even be in condition to fill in if the need arises. Both fighters have only had one fight in 2006 due to injury, but Emelianenko fought in May and Kharitonov has had seven months of rest and rehab.

I give the edge in experience and conditioning to Sergei. Rumor has it he’s also put on some additional muscle. Hopefully it doesn’t make him sluggish against the 250-pound Aleksander. Kharitonov by TKO from cut stoppage (possibly from knees to the head).
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