Pride GP Total Elimination 2004 Preview

Murilo Rua vs Sergei Kharitonov

Apr 21, 2004
Murilo “Ninja” Rua vs. Sergei Kharitonov

MURILO RUA: Brazilian muay Thai fighter, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu grappler, placed 6th in 1999 World Jiu-Jitsu Championship, Shooto veteran, MECA veteran, trains under Rudjimar Frederico and Rafael Cordeiro with Wanderlei Silva, Mauricio Rua, Jorge Patino Cristiano Marcelo and the rest of the Chute Boxe Academy as well as Brazilian wrestler Joao Carlos Escosteguy, with a record of 10-3-1 in MMA, making his 9th appearance (5-3) in the ring of the PFC

Abbreviated Fight History: Murilo was a non-athletic chubby little boy who loved martial arts movies. With his mother’s encouragement he began training at the Chute Boxe Academy at 14 years old. Jose “Pele” Landi-jons was his main trainer. At 17 Rua decided to compete in some local Vale Tudo events. He performed well and became a professional fighter at age 20 fighting in the MECA events held by Chute Boxe trainer Rudjimar Frederico. He debuted at Pride 20 with a KO over Daijiro Matsui and had been a regular on Pride cards until last year. Below are some of Rua’s more significant contests

Rua/Adriano Bay Boy: In Meca Vale Tudo 1, “Ninja” faced a fighter who looked much like a compacted Vitor Belfort named Adriano “Bad Boy” and stood toe-to-toe with the fellow Brazilian. At one point Murilo was rocked in that match but he was able to keep his presence of mind and fight right back. When his opponent couldn’t hang with him on the feet, he brought the “Ninja” to the ground where Murilo finished him with a triangle choke. As is often the case with that choke, when the “Bad Boy” tapped Rua released him and he shot back to the mat like he was fired out of a cannon.

Rua/ Israel Albuquerque: His bout at the Meca 2 event against Israel Albuquerque showcased Murilo’s ability to counter submissions. I counted seven submission attempts in one sequence thwarted by Murilo and he finished his opponent with strikes on the ground.

Rua/Daijiro Matsui: He debuted against Takada Dojo’s Daijiro Matsui at Pride 16. There he punished the Japanese fighter for two rounds and came out in the third round to end the lesson with a kicking display to win by KO.

Rua/Dan Henderson: “Ninja” fought Dan Henderson at Pride 17 in a riveting confrontation. It was the fight of the night and if there was ever a contest that begged for an overtime period, this was it. Rua suffered his first loss in MMA.

Rua/Mario Sperry: At Pride 20, Rua did his part to defend the Chute Boxe camp’s honor and took a decision win over the Brazilian Top Team’s leader Mario Sperry. Rua was devastating, nearly KOing the “Zen Machine” in the first round. By his own admission Sperry said he was out of the fight at that point and simply held on for the 20-minute duration.

Rua/Akira Shoji: At the Pride Shockwave NYE show, “Ninja” was forced to roll a bit with Shoji before he got up and blasted him with a flying knee minutes into the first round.

Rua/Alexander Otsuka: Otsuka was struck with a low blow in the opening seconds of the bout at Pride 27. He was able to continue after the Kazuhiro Nakamura/Dos Caras Jr. bout but was quickly brought down and side choked giving “Ninja” the win.

Also worthy of note: Rua battled Akihiro Gono (draw), Alex Andrade (win/decision) and Ricardo Arona (loss/decision) and Kevin Randleman (loss/TKO)

Strengths And Weaknesses: Rua’s strength is his muay Thai training at Chute Boxe Academy. He is a very accurate and punishing striker who enjoys standing and trading with his opponents. His ground work is solid and he’ll G’n’P with the best of them if given the opportunity. His attitude is also a major strength. He is confident, sometimes bordering on fearless. This can also prove to be a weakness. He isn’t the strongest submission fighter but his superior striking has a way over covering up that weakness.

How He Can Beat Kharitonov: By keeping him standing. “Ninja” has shown the ability to do plenty of damage in the stand-up exchanges and employ his Thai skills.

SERGEY KHARITONOV: Russian wrestler and sambo practitioner, Scandinavian NHB Championships veteran, Tournament of Real Men veteran, Yalta’s Brilliant veteran, trains with Volk Han, Mikhail Illoukhine, Bazigit Atajev and the rest of the Russian Top Team as well as Fedor and Aleksander Emelianenko from the Red Devil Fight Club, with a record of 7-1 in MMA, making his 3rd appearance (2-0) in the ring of the PFC

Abbreviated Fight History: 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 has fought in three professional MMA events prior to his appearance in Pride Bushido. Two of these events were tournaments and he’s done very well. His only loss was in 1998 at the Scandinavian NHB Championships where he was stopped with strikes. He competed two years later in the Yalta’s Brilliant 2000 tournament in the Ukraine and won three bouts. His most recent competition, and the event that put him on the inaugural Pride Bushido card, was his complete destruction of his opponents in the Tournament of Real Men 8. Sergei’s combined fight time for both bouts was under two minutes. Below are some of Kharitonov’s more significant contests.

Kharitonov/Jason Nobunaga: Nobunaga came out kicking the legs hard. Kharitonov answered with a left straight punch to the head and a single leg takedown. From the mat they fight with Sergey in sidemount and Jason attempting a guillotine choke from the bottom. Sergey turns Jason to his side and delivers sharp punches to the face. Nobunaga gets to his knees and they stand to clinch. The fighters trade punches inside and Kharitonov executes another hard slamming takedown. With Sergey in Jason’s full guard they trade punches to the face. Sergey moves from sidemount to mount and delivers strikes to Jason’s face. Nobunaga is not defending well from the bottom and Kharitonov shows his hand by feigning an armbar and then sitting back to do more punishment. Moments later Nobunaga turns to his side and Kharitonov isolates the arm allowing him to secure the armbar for the win.

Kharitonov/Cory “LA Giant” Peterson: Kharitonov had little trouble dispatching this new giant. Peterson got in a few punches for his effort but was manhandled and submitted via armbar in under two minutes into the first round.

Strengths And Weaknesses: Sergey is good on the ground and at bringing people to the ground. He had solid takedowns against Nobunaga and seems fairly knowledgeable of submissions. His training partners are a definite advantage as well. With the Emelianenko brothers working his striking, grappling and submissions, Sergey is in superior hands to improve his game. A possible weakness, other than not having faced stellar competition, may be his overall stand-up game. We haven’t seen much of this in his last few bouts so it is difficult to assess at this time.

How He Can Beat Rua: Bring it to the ground quickly and keep it there. His sambo skills are what will give him an edge over “Ninja”. If he can bring the Brazilian to the mat and overpower him, the opportunity to pound out a win or at least get a favorable decision may be there.

MY PICK: I would consider this an upset but I’m going with Kharitonov. Rua isn’t used to fighting in this weight class and he may have trouble adjusting. He’s been on a diet of easier competition since losing to Randleman and that probably wasn’t the best prescription leading up to likely the biggest tournament he’ll ever compete in. Kharitonov has nothing to lose here. His stock can only rise from participation in this event sop he will likely come out on fire and make his name here. I feel it will be Kharitonov by TKO stoppage in the 2nd Rd.
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