Many questions were still being asked about the 24 year old from Moscow, Russia. Sergei Kharitonov had been impressive in the past, but as some people would tell you, those wins came over a traditional 205 pounder in Murilo Ninja, unknown Mu Bai Choi, and a loss to Minotauro Nogueira.
Since the Nogueira fight, Pedro Rizzo would be his toughest test to date and the young Russian passed with flying colors. Sergei didn’t just defeat Pedro Rizzo, but dominated him at his own game. Something many MMA insiders didn’t believe could happen. Sergei was quicker to the punch and dominated Rizzo from the beginning to the end.
Some people will now say Rizzo is washed up as the Brazilian has now lost five of his last eight fights. Well…they may be right.
Rizzo won 11 of his first 12 fights as a professional. His only loss at that time was to Kevin Randleman at UFC 26 by decision. After beating up on Dan Severn and Josh Barnett, Rizzo lost a very controversial fight vs Randy Couture in one of the best heavyweight title fights in UFC history. Even though Pedro lost that fight, Rizzo won with the fans.
He also won with the Zuffa brass as the UFC immediately paid him one of the largest contracts at that time in Zuffa history. A guaranteed six fight deal, worth six digits for EACH fight. You have to wonder if it was the money that changed his career forever.
Since that big money deal, Rizzo lost 5 of his next 8 fights. Two to Couture as I already mentioned. Then after a win over Andrei Arlovski, Rizzo lost to Gan McGee and Vladimir Matyushenko in back to back fights in the Octagon. He did defeat Tra Telligman in probably his best performance since the first Couture fight, but then put many to sleep against Ricco Rodriguez in an uninspired decision win at UFC 45.
Pride was supposed to be the start of something big for the Brazilian. Instead it could be the end of an era. President Sakikabara was not impressed in the least saying he was very disappointed saying “with Pedro Rizzo, who we were very confident about making a good showing, proved to be no competition whatsoever.” Now you have to wonder if Rizzo has just fought his way off any future Pride shows.
If you’re a Rizzo fan, you have to hope they bring him back to fight again in Japan but right now that is a BIG if. If he doesn’t get a win though in his next fight, it truly could be the end of the man they call the Rock, who has now hit rock bottom in his professional career.