INTERVIEW WITH SERGEI KHARITONOV
08/24/2004

Sergei Kharitonov surprised everyone with his performance over the past 6 months in the PRIDE Heavyweight Grand Prix 2004, losing only to Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira in the 8/15 Semi-Final Round. What Kharitonov, who rocketed from being an unknown to one of the top 4, think of his first loss?

 

       

 

Pride Fighting Championships: How do you feel about your loss to Nogueira in the Grand Prix finals?
Sergei Kharitonov: I don't feel that I did my best but more than that, I want to become stronger and refine my skills. I think from here on I will further improve my skills and make my style exactly like I imagine it should be.
Pride: Was Nogueira better than you expected? Or was he exactly what you expected?
Kharitonov: Nogueira's level is exactly what I thought it would be from my research. I know his fight history, of course, and his technical level wasn't greater than what I expected. I think the reason for my loss this time was that I wasn't able to do what I had planned on myself. I planned for 3 rounds of 10, 5 and 5 minutes and I guess that my have had some effect on my fight with Nogueira. Next time I will be in even better shape, improve my skills even further and give a fight that everyone can enjoy.
Pride: Were any of Nogueira's techniques surprising or any that you think will be beneficial to you later?
Kharitonov: I know all of the techniques that he used in the fight and they were what I expected. He wasn't able to finish me with any of his techniques. There wasn't anything that surprised me. The fight was exactly what I had prepared for. I think that in parts (of the fight), Nogueira seemed a little more aggressive to the judges and that's how the decision was made.
Pride: You gave up the mount position in the latter half of the 1st round. Were you worried?
Kharitonov: No, not at all. I was controlling the situation and was able to stay calm.
Pride: What was your original game plan?
Kharitonov: My plan was pretty close to watch you saw in the match, standing up and on the ground, but, as I said before, I wasn't able to do everything that I had expected. I will be able to by the next fight.
Pride: Was not being able to do everything that had planned on due to pressure or the atmosphere at the event?
Kharitonov: Honestly, in a way, there probably was some pressure from the outside and also the event's atmosphere. I think the greatest factor in my loss was that although I had planned on a 20-inute fight, we had to change it a few days before and that had a huge effect.
Pride: So you think the outcome would be different if their had been a 3rd round?
Kharitonov: I don't want to say that now. I would like to fight Nogueira again in a regular match. That's all I can say.
Pride: Your position has risen at an incredible pace but do you think you can beat Nogueira within 1 year?
Kharitonov: Hmm, I want to be number one. Being number one in PRIDE is my first goal, not beating Nogueira.
Pride: Who would you like to fight next?
Kharitonov: I don't choose my opponents.
Pride: I think fans are looking forward to a match with Mirko.
Kharitonov: Then, I will gladly accept. (laughing)
Pride: Did you see the Fedor/Ogawa match?
Kharitonov: Of course. I think Fedor is on a different level than Ogawa. Ogawa is a great athlete, though. I just think that the difference in their levels was clear in the match.
Pride: What did you think about the final match?
Kharitonov: It had a lot of meaning and I think the fight was even for both sides. There was striking from Fedor and Nogueira tried many different techniques. The result was unfortunate but I guess they will have a fight to see who is the strongest in the near future.
Pride: And you want to be included?
Kharitonov: Yes. Unfortunately, it was Nogueira and Fedor that advanced this time so I can't challenge anyone soon at this point. If there's going to be another Grand Prix, I'd be happy to participate.
Pride: People will be after you since you've advanced to the best 4.
Kharitonov: Of course. I'm always ready to hit back.
Pride: What does this loss mean to you?
Kharitonov: It was a good lesson for tomorrow. This loss is the restarting point for me to advance to the next level. I was able to find my weak points and see Nogueira's weak points. My coaches also think this will be good study material. There's a new sports center opening in November. Many other Russian fighters and me will go there to improve our skill. It's very important to us. I think we will be able to show a new-and-improved Russian Top Team in the near future.
Pride: It looks like there will be a lot more Russian fighters like yourself in the future.
Kharitonov: There's a lot of hidden potential in Russia and there are many talented fighters. I think you will see more Russian fighters in PRIDE in the future. I will also come back as a brand new Sergei Kharitonov. Everyone must always aim for the top and continuously improve themselves.
Pride: Are you going to teach at the sports center?
Kharitonov: No, I think I will be taught at the center. We have a lot of great coaches in the Russian Top Team. It's their job to bring up the young fighters and there's no room for me to teach. (laughing) My position is that I'm a fighter and I want them to teach me.
Pride: Are you going to continue your military job?
Kharitonov: Of course.