Preview: PRIDE 30 “Fully Loaded” Main Card

Sergei Kharitonov vs. Fabricio Werdum

Oct 20, 2005
KHARITONOV: Russian Sambo Champion Sergei Kharitonov (Pictures) is 12-2 in MMA and makes his eighth appearance in the PFC (6-1). He trains with Volk Han, Mikhail Illoukhine (Pictures), Bazigit Atajev and the rest of the Russian Top Team and had been training with Fedor and Aleksander Emelianenko (Pictures) prior to their leaving for the Red Devil Fight Club.

Like most Russian fighters, Sergei 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 Yalta’s Brilliant 2000 tournament in the Ukraine and won three bouts. Then he returned to dominate his opponents in the Tournament of Real Men 8. Sergei’s combined fight time for both bouts was under two minutes.

Kharitonov debuted in Japan at PRIDE Bushido 1 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). The “LA Giant” got in a few punches for his effort but was manhandled and submitted via armbar less than two minutes into the first round.

His first big test was against Murilo Rua (Pictures) in the opening round of the 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 took over, beating the Brazilian fighter to the punch and picking apart his defense. Kharitononv caught Rua with a right hook to the head and finished him with a left uppercut.

Sergei pounded away at Dutchman Semmy Schilt (Pictures) and showed good control on the ground. He stopped Semmy with strikes late in the first round. Last August, Kharitonov fought Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Pictures) in the semifinals of the PFC GP tournament. Kharitonov showed his skills against the former champion continued to surprise many with his composure. The fight went the distance but Sergei fully established himself as a legitimate threat for the title in the heavyweight division. Choi Mu Bae fell victim to Sergei’s strikes at PRIDE 29 and Pedro Rizzo (Pictures) was dominated in the first round and sent packing from the 2005 Critical Countdown show. And in a surprising appearance, Sergei made a pit stop to submit Peter Mulder at a RINGS Russia event in August.

WERDUM: Fabricio Werdum (Pictures) is a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt and 9-0-1 in MMA. He was a star at the Abu Dhabi Combat Championships in 2003, finishing second in the 99+ KG class and finishing 3rd in the Absolutes. He went to Abu Dhabi to help Mark Kerr prepare for the Ricardo Arona (Pictures) super fight and was sponsored by Marcos Vinicius de Lucia, the owner of Beverly Hills Jiu-Jitsu Club. He also trained under Marcio Corleta and Silvio Behring (son of Master Flavio Behring).

Werdum began training jiu-jitsu in 1998 after a girlfriend’s former boyfriend challenged him to a fight. He was unfamiliar with the BJJ and was easily triangle choked in front of his girlfriend. He sought out Winner Behring and instructor Marcio Corleta to begin training. Fabricio was winning world titles and the Pan American championships as a blue belt, the European Cup as a brown belt and won the World Cup and World Championship as a black belt in the super heavyweight category all in a two-year span.

Earlier this year, Werdum was ready to join the Chute Boxe Academy and train with Wanderlei Silva (Pictures). He was going to be the heavyweight representative and replace Assuerio Silva in the camp and in the PFC. In the final stages of negotiations, Werdum received a phone call from “Cro Cop” agent Ken Imal inviting him to Croatia to train Mirko Filipovic (Pictures) for four months. The deal also included a three-year contract with PRIDE promising four fights in a year. It was an offer he could not turn down and now Werdum trains as part of Team Cro Cop.

Fabricio’s MMA debut was at Millennium Brawl in London where he submitted Ultimate Combat heavyweight Tenzig Tedoradze in less than two minutes. He fought to a draw with UFC veteran James Zikic (Pictures) on the next MB show and then won a bout in Spain by decision. Werdum submitted K-1 MMA veteran Kristof Midoux in Morocco before debuting in the Jungle Fight promotion. He fought in the first two events, stopping both Gabriel Gonzaga and PRIDE and UFC veteran Ebenezer Braga with strikes. At PRIDE 29, Werdum made his PFC debut against American wrestler Tom Erikson (Pictures). “Big Cat” took the fight on 12 days’ notice and could not outwork the crafty Brazilian, losing by rear choke in less than six minutes. At the end of August, Werdum battled Red Devil Roman Zentsov (Pictures) at Final Conflict ’05 show and defeated him by triangle choke in the first round.

MY PICK: This could be the show stealer on the card. We know Werdum is talented, especially at jiu-jitsu, but he’s in the ring with a truly versatile fighter that we still know so very little about two years into his PRIDE career. Fabricio is confident he can work the same game Nogueira did to take the victory in ’04. Well, that was three fights ago and Sergei is not the same fighter he was then. How could he be? I see Werdum giving his a battle on the ground but one of those Fedor-like hammers is going to drop on his head sooner or later. Kharitonov by TKO in the second round.
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