NASTULA REQUESTS RULE CHANGE VERSUS NOGUEIRA
06/01/2005

Two non-tournament matches were announced for PRIDE FIGHTING'S next event, CRITICAL COUNTDOWN 2005. In the first, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira of the Brazilian Top Team will take on Poland's 1996 Judo Olympic gold-medallist, Pawel Nastula. In the second bout Russia's Sergei Kharitonov takes on veteran heavyweight, Pedro "The Rock" Rizzo of Brazil. The same day these matches were announced, at the preview reception of Dream Stage Picture's new film "Nagurimono," DSE President Nobuyuki Sakakibara made it known that Nastula had requested special rules for his bout with Nogueira.

Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira versus Pawel Nastula ... PRIDE's Jiu Jitsu champion and the world's judo champion ... each will bring their skills to the ring.

After Nastula won the gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic games, he went on to win numerous world and European Judo tournaments. He has also been recognized among the top 50 judokas in the world. In just four years, Nastula has built an amazing record of 312 matches and no losses.

For Nastula's mixed martial arts debut fight he requested to fight Nogueira. DSE gave the judo champion a list of challengers to choose from, but he wanted to fight a martial artist who represented one of judo's oldest enemies ... Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. According to Sakakibara, Nastula was very aggressive with his request.

The special rules that Nastula asked for included having both combatants wear a full gi uniform (jacket and pants) and that they fight under the Bushido rules of a 10 minute first round and 5 minute second round, or 3 rounds of 5 minutes. "The cards have been decided, but because of the request of change in rules, Nogueira has yet to approve," said Sakakibara, "Nogueira's team is showing some disapproval to the change in rules." Sakakibara continued, "PRIDE will now be shown in Poland, Nastula's mother country, so I assume he feels as though this is a fight he cannot lose."

This is the first time a change of rules has been requested since Royce Gracie did so at the 2000 PRIDE Grand Prix. In addition, this will be the first time in the history of PRIDE that both fighters will compete in a full gi uniform. Although Nogueira is used to wearing his gi from his Jiu Jitsu background, since moving on to mixed martial arts rules it is unknown whether he still practices in it. Will Nogueira accept these rules that may favor Nastula? The focus is now on Nogueira.

Pedro Rizzo, a big name heavy weight fighter who last fought in the UFC, is finally coming to PRIDE. He will fight Sergei Kharitonov in a much-anticipated match.

Rizzo is known as a striker and is one of the top students under the legendary Marco Ruas. Rizzo showed the world his impressive abilities when he beat Tsuyoshi "TK" Kosaka by KO with one punch during a Japanese MMA tournament. He has continued to prove his ability by beating such notable heavy weights as Dan Severn, Mark Coleman, Tank Abbott, Ricco Rodriguez, and Josh Barnett.

Rizzo's opponent is Sergei Kharitonov, a man that has demonstrated that he may belong among the top three heavyweights in PRIDE. If he beats Rizzo people will surely have to call him one of the big four, which speaks much about Rizzo. Brazil versus Russia, a fight that destiny has brought us!

Finally, regarding the heavyweight title match between Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic, Sakakibara said, "We will make our decision in one week. Make no mistake, there will be a title match in either June or August. We are in our final checks with Fedor whether he can fight in June. If it is not possible to arrange a title match, Mirko will fight someone else on the June fightcard. On top of that we will add another match, making for a total of eight matches on June 26th."