Fedor vs Nogueira I, Pride 25, 16 March 2003
Fedor vs Nogueira at Pride 25 is the first of an epic trilogy rivalry between two of the best heavyweights in Pride. This match-up was the most highly anticipated fight at the time. Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was the current Pride Heavyweight Champion and Fedor Emelianenko was the fast rising MMA superstar. What made this fight amazing was the performance of the underdog rising above the expectations of fight fans and fight critics. Fedor vs Noueira was also a phenomenal match-up in styles. Nogueira, a master of triangles and armbars wanted the fight to go to the ground. However this plan would play directly into Fedor’s dangerous ground and pound. It was almost as if both fighters were competing against each other with the strongest tools they possessed.
In 2003, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was the reigning Pride Heavyweight Champion. He defeated Heath Herring in 2001 for the title. Coming into this fight, Nogueira had established himself as the most dominant Pride heavyweight of all time. He was perceived as indestructible with only one career loss to Dan Henderson in the Rings promotion.
Since joining Pride in July 2001, Nogueira defeated Gary Goodridge, Mark Coleman, and Heath Herring. All in the same half year. In 2002, Nogueira defeated Enson Inoue, Bob Sapp, Semmy Schilt, and avenged his loss against Dan Henderson. It is no wonder why fight fans considered Nogueira the greatest of all time.
Outside of MMA, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira was a champion BJJ fighter. He had wins in the Pan-American championships, Brazilian Championships, and made the 2000 ADCC quarter finals. Nogueira was a specialist on the ground and was defeating all his opponents via triangle or armbar.
Fedor Emelianenko was comparatively new to the world of MMA. He was an accomplished Judo player and a Combat Sambo champion. In MMA, Fedor made a name for himself in the Rings promotion. In 2001 he won the Rings Absolute Class Tournament and the Rings Openweight Title Tournament. He has wins against Ricardo Arona and Renato Sobral. Pride fans only knew him from his Round 1 TKO of Heath Herring.
After Fedor vs Nogueira I, Pride fans would not only know him as the Pride Heavyweight Champion, but the man who defeated the indestructible Nogueira.
Fedor vs Nogueira full fight video