August 15th, 2004
The Heavyweight Grand Prix was set to conclude at Pride: ‘Final Conflict’ 2004 tonight. But the tournament champion has yet to be crowned after the final between Fedor Emelianenko and Antônio Rodrigo Nogueira ended in a no contest.
The two first fought at Pride 25 when Fedor snatched the heavyweight title from Nogueira with a unanimous decision win. They came into the tournament as favourites ant it was no surprise to see them rematching in the final.
Earlier in the night Fedor had needed just 54 seconds to finish Naoya Ogawa with an armbar in his semi final. By contrast Nogueira had gone the distance with Sergei Kharitonov, prevailing by way of unanimous decision after a 15 minute war.
The Brazilian shot for an immediate takedown but Fedor fought him off and landed in top position. Nogueira tried for a leg lock and a scramble ensued but it finished with the Russian in top position.
Nogueira was looking dangerous off his back, hoping to trap Fedor in an armbar or triangle. The Russian didn’t leave any openings but had to be patient with his offence.
Fedor was able to score with the occasional right hand to his opponent’s face but wasn’t doing sustained damage. He repeatedly postured or stood up and then dived down to land a punch.
This strategy backfired badly when Fedor threw himself head first into Nogueira looking to land a left hand. Their heads collided and the Russian came off much worse.
A huge cut opened up on Fedor’s forehead. Nogueira’s team initially started celebrating, believing that an upkick had caused the damage but replays proved conclusively that it was the clash of heads.
After a lengthy delay referee Yuji Shimada addressed the crowd. He announced that the fight would be declared a no contest meaning the two men will presumably need to face off at a later date to see who will be crowned the second Pride Heavyweight Grand Prix winner.
It was the first time Fedor had failed to win a Pride fight and his record is now 19-1-0-1. Nogueira is now 23-2-1-1 but the Russian remains the heavyweight champion.
Best of the rest
Reigning middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva (26-3) needed less than three minutes to finish Yuki Kondo (42-14) with stomps. The Brazilian’s title was not on the line.
Mirko Crocop (12-2) was eliminated by Kevin Randleman in the opening round of the Heavyweight Grand Prix in one of the biggest upsets in Pride history. The Croatian needed just over two minutes to finish Aleksander Emelianenko here, his third straight win since that devastating defeat.
This is part of our retrospective series looking at some classic shows and fights.