HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP SIGNING
07/01/2005

The official signing ceremony for the PRIDE Heavyweight Championship was held on July 28th in Tokyo. Present were the current PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, Fedor Emelianenko, and the challenger, Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic. The Championship bout will take place on August 28th at Saitama Super Arena during the PRIDE GP 2005 Final Round event.

Finally, the greatest match ever in Heavyweight MMA history, Fedor VS Mirko, has become official. After taking out Red Devil team member, Ibragim Magomedov, with a single kick, Mirko stood in the ring and demanded an official announcement of the Championship fight's confirmation. Fedor responded and the signing ceremony was held the next day.

In order, Mirko, Fedor, PRIDE General Director Takada and DSE CEO Nobuyuki took the white-feathered pen and signed the agreement. With this, the super fight that has been 2 years in the making will finally become reality.

After the signing, Takada commented, "The 2nd Round yesterday again showed us the difficult of fighting in this world. With that reality on stage right before our eyes, we were again shown PRIDE's concept and reason for living. I had particularly high hopes for the 1st match, Pedro Rizzo VS Sergei Kharitonov. I think everyone else did, too. However, after the fight I thought has the difference (between PRIDE and other organizations) become this big? Once again, I felt how strong PRIDE fighters have become."

"Then we have the Champion, Fedor, and the challenger, Mirko," Takada continued. "They are above the rest. Everyone admits that Fedor is the strongest in the world and now we are left to wonder what kind of fight his closet competitor, Mirko, will give him and what will the final outcome be. We are looking forward to that day with a pleasant nervousness. I'm confident that this battle between Fedor and Mirko will be one for the history books."

Just as Takada said, Fedor VS Mirko is the single high-level fight between Heavyweight fighters that has never been realized. Many knowledgeable people feel that Mirko has a greater chance against Fedor than Nogueira did and that there's a good possibility that this fight will become the loss for Fedor in PRIDE. It's possible that there is no one that even has a chance at beating Fedor, who Nogueira lost to twice, except for Mirko.

Mirko, after finally cornering Fedor, greeted the Japanese crowd with "konnichiwa." He continued, "August 28th will probably become the most important day in my life and my fighting career. I've waited a long time for this day to come. I want to have a truly great title match with both Fedor and myself in our best condition."

Mirko also made a prediction for his fight, "This fight has finally been officially confirmed so it's like the time I have waited so long for has finally come. I will have the belt in the end."

Fedor, with his usual poker face, quietly replied, "Like Mirko, I'm also looking forward to this fight. I will do my best to make this a wonderful match."

There is still the matter of Fedor's injured right hand, which caused a delay in the planned June 26th title match. "It's not completely healed yet but it should be by the time of the fight," Fedor explained. "I will continue to let it heal while doing a lot of different training. I train every day now and I will be able to give 100% in the fight. First, I'm going to spend a month at a sports center in the mountains. Then I will go to Holland again for kickboxing training."

Mirko is going to take 10 days off, relaxing, playing soccer and basketball and then restart his normal training. "I don't have any special training. I will bring my usual sparring partners from America and Europe and just spar with partners from different styles." Fedor didn't reveal any secrets, either, "I will practice everything as usual, including striking and grappling."

"Every fight is important to me," Fedor explained in the end, revealing that he considers Mirko to be his greatest challenge. "However, a title match is the most important of those. I have to do my absolute best this time, both mentally and physically. This will be a difficult match."

The two fighters were supposed to face off at the Middleweight Grand Prix two years ago. Now, two years later, they will meet in the Final Round of the same Middleweight Grand Prix. The history of the Middleweight Division and the Heavyweight Division may change in a single day. On August 28, these two fighters will face their destiny.