"A confused PRIDE Openweight Grand Prix has gained some clarity.
PRIDE Heavyweight Champion Fedor Emelianenko has officially withdrawn from the PRIDE Openweight Grand Prix. Emelianenko, who underwent surgery on
his right hand to repair a damaged thumb, will not be ready in time to compete on July 1st as was previously hoped. Dream Stage Entertainment slotted Emelianenko into the second round, giving him a bye through the first round on May 5th, hoping that he would be sufficiently healthy enough to fight. However, a Russian doctor informed DSE President Nobuyuki Sakakibara that the earliest that the metal plate in Fedor’s hand could be removed is in June.
Emelianenko apologized to the Japanese fans for his lingering injury, and went on to state that he would like to fight any time in the late year, whether it be at the Openweight Grand Prix finale in September, at PRIDE’s first American show in Las Vegas in October, or on New Years Eve at Otoko Matsuri.
In Emelianenko’s place, will be PRIDE Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva. Silva, who was scheduled to be in the first round of the Grand Prix before contract disputes, is rumored to be taking on Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Also, Croatian superstar Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic’s teammates from the Team Nokaut have confirmed that despite a deep bone bruise to his left ankle, Filipovic will indeed participate in the July 1st Openweight Grand Prix event at Saitama Super Arena."
I’m glad to see Fedor doing the smart thing, and I’m glad to see Silva in. Barnett/Fedor would have been awesome, but Nog/Silva could be legendary. Silva being in will also bring back some of the “Open Weight” legitimacy of the tournament. On the Pride site Sakikibara mentions he will be announcing undercard fights next week.