Sergei Kharitonov Talks About Victory, Fedor Emelianenko and Alistair Overeem
Sergei Kharitonov is the last man to have beaten Alistair Overeem at heavyweight and he won his Strikeforce Tournament quarter final less than two weeks ago against former UFC champion Andrei Arlovski. Sergei took some time out of his schedule to talk to Bleacher Report about his career, other competitors in the Strikeforce tournament and a little bit about his life.
Sergei is a veteran in mixed martial arts, he is 30-years-old and has been fighting since 2000. He has 25 professional fights to his name If you combine his time spent in MMA and K1 kickboxing.
Sergei has also trained and competed in amateur boxing and his country's native sport Combat Sambo. Sergei's athletic prowess was spurned on by his parents who were heavily involved in sports themselves so it is to know surprise that Sergei is now competing athletically at the professional level.
In addition to fighting, Sergei was a part of the Russian Airborne Troops where he completed his training as a paratrooper.
More importantly Sergei has secured himself a spot in the Strikeforce Heavyweight Tournament semifinals and he isn't wasting any time getting back to training.
"I just returned to Thailand and I am back training already again in the Golden Glory Pattaya gym," Sergei said about what he is doing since winning against Arlovski.
Sergei also came out of the tournament in good shape. When asked about injuries, he had the following to say "No my right fist got hurt very little, I am fine."
As we can see Sergei likes to get right back into the grind even after victory. One would figure he'd take at least sometime to relax or vacation, but no. "No [vacations] I am training again, I love training and keeping in shape, I will come even better prepared for my next fight. I was in good shape for this fight."
Sergei Kharitonov Handed Andrei Arlovski His Seventh Knockout Loss
Sergei Kharitonov landing one of the punches that spelled the beginning of the end for Andrei Arlovski.
Sergei made it look easy when he knocked out former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski two Saturday's ago. Arlovski came out sharp in the opening minutes, utilizing his crisp boxing to try and outpoint Kharitonov. Unfortunately for Arlovski, Sergei pressed forward and forced Arlovski into clinches and against the fence where Arlovski was noticeably uncomfortable. After a few well placed punches it was a wrap for Sergei.
Sergei made his fight against Arlovski look so routine, I couldn't help, but ask if he had spent a lot of time looking for holes to exploit in Arlovski's game.
"No I did not really look at his [Arlovski's] fights, we trained a lot of stand up by sparring at the Golden Glory Gym in Pattaya Thailand and then a lot of ground training and sparring with Olaf Einemo. Just sparring everyday and hard training. Anything can happen in a fight and I did not want any surprises."
Arlovski suffered his third knockout in his last four outings at the hands of Sergei. Arlovski has stated to the media that he is not finished with fighting and he wants to get right back on the horse despite losing his last four bouts.
Media and fans are questioning whether it is safe for Arlovski to continue his fighting career and I had the chance to ask Sergei about possible retirement for Arlovski.
"He has to decide that for himself. I also got knocked out once and wanted revenge the next day, we are fighters, warriors and if we don't have that feeling we should stop fighting. I can understand Arlovski, sometimes it's also the management which needs to protect a fighter, help him to get the right opponent."
Sergei seems to disregard what others think about Alovski's future. He feels it is up to Arlovski to decide whether to reitire or not, but like many he also believes that Arlovski's management team should try to get him a fight he can win and build off of. To put it bluntly, If Arlovski is to make a comeback in the near future he shouldn't be going up against a striker with knockout power like Sergei.
Speaking of retirement, Arlovski wasn't the only fighter who had retirement rumors surrounding him after the Strikeforce heavyweight tournament quarter finals.
Sergei Discusses The Other Quarter Final: Fedor Emelianenko Vs Antonio Silva
Sergei Kharitonov (right) practicing his stand up.
Fedor Emelianenko vs Antonio Silva was the main event of the night being held after Segei's showdown with Arlovski. There was a lot of media buzz surrounding Fedor's fight with Silva especially considering the fact that it was Fedor's first fight back since his loss to Fabricio Werdum in 2010.
Even more media buzz was generated post fight as the heavy underdog Silva not only beat Fedor Emelianenko, but put an epic beat down on the man who had a phenomenal record of 31-2-1 at the time.
When asked about Fedor's performance and the fight in general, Sergei chimed in with the following.
"I thought it was a good fight. Fedor took a lot of punishment in the second round and showed a great fighting heart if you ask me. Maybe he needs better sparring partners and other people [for] his management. For the great champion he was, he did not fight much."
Like many others have speculated, Sergei feels Fedor is maybe in need of a new camp and/or better management team than what M1 global has provided in the recent past. Sergei went on to talk about the fighting spirit required to win in this sport and how without that a fighter will continue losing and if this is the case for Fedor it maybe time to retire.
"That 's up to Fedor. He is not that old I believe, but, it has to do with will as well. If he thinks it's enough then he should stop fighting. If he is pushed to fight by his management then we will see more losses..."
Sergei certainly isn't talking retirement or experiencing a lack of motivation for himself. Sergei is on the road to winning the next leg in the tournament—the semi-finals against the winner of Josh Barnett vs Brett Rogers.
Whether It Be Brett Rogers Or Josh Barnett, Sergei Kharionov Doesn't Care
Now that Sergei has taken care of business in his quarterfinal bout, he awaits the winner of the other quarterfinal matchup between Josh Barnett and Brett Rogers. When asked about which opponent Sergei would rather face, his answer was pretty blunt.
"I do not care, they are obstacles and [they] need to be removed so I can get that belt."
One has to admire Sergei's attitude, but many are favoring Josh Barnett as the winner of Sergei's side of the bracket and possibly the winner of the tournament. Not only is Barnett one of the tournament favorites, but he is a strong wrestler with very good submissions as well.
One would have to think Sergei is better off against Rogers, but maybe Sergei just doesn't want to get his hopes up because he believes Barnett is who he will meet in the semi-final.
"If it goes to the ground Barnett will win the match pretty fast. If he brawls with Rogers, Rogers actually might [have] a shot by landing a big punch on the chin of Barnett, but not likely."
Regardless of who wins, Sergei has one thing on his mind and that is winning the tournament which brings us to the other side of the tournament bracket.
What If Sergei Kharitonov Faces Off Against Alistair Overeem For The Third Time?
Alistair Overeem holds three titles, 2 in MMA and 1 in K1 Kickboxing
If Sergei wins his side of the tournament bracket and Alistair Overeem does the same on the other side, there is potential for a Golden Glory showdown and a tie-breaker in a best of three fights.
Both fighters have beaten each other in the past with Sergei being the victor the last time these two met. The difference now is that Sergei and Overeem have been part of the same camp for over three years now. That being said, it won't stop the two from competing for that tiebreaker.
When asked about it being difficult to fight a member of the same camp and training difficulties that could arise from that, Sergei doesn't see any issues.
"No we did it before [and] so did many Golden Glory fighters in the past. It's an extra match to prove who is the strongest from our Golden Glory gyms." Sergei continued "We are here [part of Golden Glory] and sometimes train at different times and at different gyms already and when we are not then we do not do any sparring together."
Unlike some of the camps in the United States, the Golden Glory guys really treat the sport like a business. Sergei has no problems fighting Alistair and vice-versa, also Valentijn Overeem has gone so far as to say he'd have no problem fighting his brother Alistair in the tournament if it came down to it.
Sergei Kharitonov Talks About Struggles, The UFC and UFC President Dana White
Sergei recently competed in K1 and has gone 1-2 in his kickboxing debut. Sergei has only competed on average once per year in mixed martial arts since 2007, so things have been a little slow. When asked about continuing to compete in K1 and his lack of fights in mixed martial arts Sergei admitted that things haven't always been happy go lucky.
"I had some injuries and personal problems which all have been solved now. I fought four times in four months now, so I am catching up. I like K-1 and would love to keep fighting for their organization."
If Sergei wins the heavyweight tournamen,t he will have amassed at least three victories against quality opponents and a chance in The UFC might be a possibility. Right now Sergei is happy where he is though.
"I fight everywhere, I am a fighter. If my management decides it's a good move to fight in the UFC and the terms are right I will be in the UFC. For now I am happy with Strikeforce, K-1 and Dream. Keeps me busy and motivated."
On the topic of The UFC, I had the chance to hear Sergei's opinion on Dana White's attitude. In particular Sergei's take on Dana's Twitter tirade on fans, M1 Global and Fedor Emelianenko after Fedor lost to Silva.
"I think its unprofessional but very entertaining [laughingly]. Vadim and M-1 make themselves [look] ridiculous as well. They got caught on tape lying about an accusation Vadim made to Alistair and then later he apologized. My manager Bas Boon told me exactly how things have gone before Vadim became his manager, I think Fedor does not really know the truth and they keep telling him that M-1 will be great and that M-1 is his next big income after he retires. But, how can you run a fighting organization, when you have problems with the UFC and many other organizations and can not book one fighter from the best and most popular team, Golden Glory?"
The Personal Life Of Sergei Kharitonov and a Message For His Sponsors
Sergei sports a shirt from his new sponsor Fight Game
A lot of people know about Sergei's fighting career, but not much about his personal life, here is a bit of information from the man himself:
"I played the accordion for many years. I am living now most of the time in Thailand. I just bought a home here. I like good food and I like the climate in Thailand. I like to swim and go see good movies."
In closing Sergei had a few thank yous to shout out to his sponsors, trainers, management and fans.
"I would like to thank Fight Game, who became a sponsor of me last year and all my new sponsors in Strikeforce; Full Tilt, Raw State and Lean Lex. [I don't want to forget] all the other sponsors and people who made it possible to make my hobby, my profession."
Leon Horne has been contributing to Bleacher Report for two years now. He focuses mainly on mixed martial arts, but he has also written about tennis, football and hockey. Just send him a message if you want to talk sports or discuss any opportunities. You can follow him on Twitter for updates: