The following is from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
PRIDE FIGHTING CHAMPIONSHIPS: Russian 'heavy' favorite
Emelianenko 13-1 choice to beat Coleman
By KEVIN IOLE
Pride Fighting Championships heavyweight titleholder Fedor Emelianenko, shown working out Thursday, is a big favorite against UFC veteran Mark Coleman tonight at the Thomas & Mack Center.
Photo by John Gurzinski.
The Pride Fighting Championships will make its U.S. debut tonight at 6 at the Thomas & Mack Center with what the arena director promises will be a breathtaking show prior to the start of the card.
Daren Libonati attended a Pride mixed martial arts card in Osaka, Japan, and — despite living in Las Vegas, a city that makes elaborate productions seem mundane — was blown away by the elaborate opening.
“It will be absolutely amazing, something so outstanding that when you see it, you won't forget it,” he said.
But the real show will come several hours later, when heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko defends his title against veteran Mark Coleman.
Coleman is one of the most respected fighters in the sport. He's a former Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight champion who has a 15-7 mixed martial arts record with wins over Shogun Rua, Don Frye and Dan Severn.
But Emelianenko, 30, is so good that he's a 13-1 favorite over Coleman at the Caesars Palace sports book.
The soft-spoken Emelianenko hardly looks like a killer, though. He still has a boyish face and, though clearly in good condition, doesn't come across as fearsome or menacing in street clothes.
Put him into a ring, though, and Emelianenko might be the most menacing person in the world who isn't carrying a weapon.
“The change that overcomes him from outside the ring to when there's a fight and he's in it is not to be believed,” said Ed Fishman, president of Pride USA. “We have difficulty finding guys to fight him.”
Like all four boxing heavyweight champions — Wladimir Klitschko of the IBF, Oleg Maskaev of the WBC, Nikolai Valuev of the WBA and Sergei Liakhovich of the WBO — Emelianenko is a product of the former Soviet Union.
But Emelianenko said he could see no common thread among them and suggested it is just an anomaly. His motivation, he said, is to use his ability to beat others senseless in an effort to become rich.
According to Nevada Athletic Commission records, his base purse for tonight's bout is $100,000, though his payday could near $1 million when bonuses and pay-per-view revenues are included.
Emelianenko said he understands the significance of tonight's card upon the sport, particularly for the fighters who are eager to see a legitimate, well-heeled rival to the UFC develop in the United States.
“When you fight, you hope to make money, lots of money,” Emelianenko said, smiling. “This is important for us (to fight in Las Vegas). My goal is to make as much as I can, so I hope people like my fights.”
Emelianenko is regarded by many experts as the best fighter in the world regardless of weight class, though he is not brash enough to suggest that himself.
He oozes humility and would only go so far as to say, “I have done well in my fights,” while running up a 17-1 MMA record and a 13-0 mark in Pride.
“I am,” he said somewhat sheepishly, “still learning, still trying to improve.”
That fact alone is what makes him so good, said former welterweight contender Frank Trigg, who will do commentary on the pay-per-view broadcast tonight.
Trigg said Emelianenko will be almost unimaginably good if he fine-tunes his game.
“Fedor is the best fighter in the world tonight, period, end of story,” Trigg said. “When I talked to him, he gave me 20 things he felt he could improve upon. They were things that, when I was breaking down his tape, I'd say to myself, 'Oh, he can do that better' or 'He can get better at this.' He knows.
“Not only is he great at what he does right now, but he knows he's only going to get better. That's what makes him so superior to everyone else.”