T Nation

Pride Open Weight Grand Prix


So far we know the tournament starts on May 5. There will be no seperate Grand Prix's for every weight class this year, instead we have an "open weight" tournament starting in May and a welterweight tournament (183 pounds) starting in April. Announced matches for the OWGP are:

Mirko "Cro Cop" Flipiovic vs Ikuhisa "The Punk" Minowa

-Looks like Cro Cop got the easy draw. Minowa's head will land in the third row of seats. Why the fuck is Minowa even in the Open Weight tourney instead of the Welterweight?

Alexander Emelianenko vs Josh "Babyfaced Assassin" Barnett

-Dream match up here, biggest fight of the young Emelianenko's career. I'll take Alex b/c I'm sure Fedor has him in tip top shape. Barnett is no slouch, he knocked Randy Couture out and his Pride losses are to Cro Cop. Too close to make a definitive call, but on paper Barnett has the edge. I'd bet that drunk Fedor shooting Barnett the thumbs down at Pride 31 set this one up.

Hidehiko Yoshida vs Yousuke Nishijima

-Great striker and cruiserweight boxing champ versus a legendary submission artist. This match will make sure a popular Japanese fighter makes it to the second round.


Kazuyuki "Ironhead" Fujita vs James "The Colossus" Thompson

-Fujita by KNTFO. Pride has done well to bring along Thompson after he suffered possibly the most embarassing (and hilarious) loss in his debut, but he's nowhere near Fujita's calibur. THe last 5 guys he's beat have a combined record of 5-16.

Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum

-Overeem looks great as a HW, and I think it suits him the best. Cro Cop's gym partner Werdum has some serious potential, but the experience of Alistair will the deciding factor. If Werdum takes him down he stands a chance.

Other fighters confirmed to be in the Grand Prix, though their match-ups have not been announced to the public:

Ysuyoshi Koshaka
Anotnio "Minotauro" Nogueira
Wanderlei "The Axe Murderer" Silva
Mark "My head is a scientific anamoly" Hunt

This leaves two spots, assuming it's a 16 man first round. Possible final 2 fighters to fill the card:

Mark Coleman (would fight Silva for sure)
Ricardo Arona (rumors abound of Silva vs Arona)
Sakuraba (please Saku, no)
Heath Herring
Possible UFC rep???

Those NOT in the first round of the tournament due to injury:

Sergei Kharitonov
Shogun Rua
Fedor Emelianenko (I think Fedor should sit in the background of all the fights on a giant throne, a la Mortal Kombat)
Quinton Jackson (the only injury is to his immense ego. Apparently he wants an exhorbant amount of money)

Rumors are that Fedor will somehow be seeded into the second round, or that the winner of the tournament will fight Fedor on New Year's Eve for the heavyweight belt. I think the latter is more probable, that way they can feed him some cans to get him back in the game and make sure his hand is alright.

If Fedor isn't in the tournament, I'll have to pick Nog to win, considering that Fedor is the only man to have beaten him in Pride. My heart will be rooting for Mirko though. He's supposed to have trained harder than ever for this fight, and sees it as his last chance to make a run for the title.

When Pride releases more official news, I'll post it here.

And yes, the poster appears to be a cumshot.


When in recent memory has Pride released the full card this far in advance?

As far as the OW billing, unless the rest of the card is MW or a ballsy LW or two, this is basically a who's who of top world fighters right now. It'd be nice to see a UFC representative, but that won't happen.

All of the fighters I'd like to see round out the card can't fight, or shouldn't.

From the announced GP, I am rooting for Mirko, Silva, Overeem, and Alex E., in that order.
This really is an absolutely ridiculous card on paper, and will help clear up the top 10 picture.


I'm looking forward to this. I'd be suprised if Fedor competes...he really has nothing to prove. I expect Silva to do well, regardless of the loss to a much heavier Mark Hunt, I think Silva can compete with most heavyweights (Fedor being the exception).

I was hoping to see Shogun Rua in the tourney. This guy is the future of the Pride Middleweight division. Still hoping to see a Silva/Shogun showdown in the future.

My off the cuff pick for the winner would be Nog as well.


Long-time lurker here. First post. I live in Japan, and in regards to Minowa, he has said he always wanted to fight Mirko. He has been saying this for the past few years. He thinks he has a way to beat him. He`s a little crazy, but a huge fan favorite of the Japanese.


Oh yeah, Fujita is gonna fight TK. Japanese papers were going crazy about a possible Fujita-Yoshida match-up. Assuming both win their respective bouts.


Be interesting to see if Wanderlei can foot it with the big boys. I think he can.

Mark Hunt could be a threat to win it all IF he has been training hard.

With Fedor missing, Nogueira would have to be the favorite, don't you guys think?


sorry, was wrong, TK and Fujita are fighting, each other I don't know. Yoshida-Fujita just rumor of course. I saw Takada on tv saying how how many possibilities there are. He mentioned Silva-Fedor.
Sakakibara mentioned the OWGP might not be done in a traditional tournament format. He said he wanted to get fan input into what match-ups they would want to see. He also said the fighters performance would be taken into consideration. Typically vague as is usual in Japan. I dont know how it is to be interpreted.


I think Nogueira also. But I dont want to see another Nogueira-Fedor fight, if the OWGP winner does fight Fedor.
Hopefully somewhere along the line we will get Mirko-Nog2 or Mirko-Silva2 during the tournament. Silva-Fedor would be interesting. Or even Alek-Fedor.
I had wanted to see how Shogun would have fared. Hopefully he makes a full recovery.
Off point, I met Coleman in Japan, very nice guy and respectful, always saying suimasen and arigatou. I was mesmerized by his big noggin though. Baroni was with him. He was a good guy also. I don
t watch the UFC so I don`t know that much about him.
Coolest guys I met though were Don Frye and Ray Sefo. Normal dudes.


That would be pretty badass.


forgive my ignorance, but is this a tournament that goes on throughout the year? somebody mentioned it would start may 5 and that there would be a fight for teh belt on new years eve. Do they just have different rounds on different ppvs? I know pride has a sundday evening show on Fox Sports, but I've only watched it a few times and never gotten a ppv.


Yes, the different rounds are different PPVs. Someone mentioned they may do something different, but here's how last years Middleweight (205lbs) class was set up:

First PPV - Round 1: 8 bouts (16 fighters)

one-two months later
2nd PPV - Round 2: 4 bouts (8 fighters) then 4 other non-tournament bouts were added to the card.

again a couple months later
3rd PPV - Semi-finals and finals in the same night. Again they also fill the card to bring it up to 8 (if I recall correctly) fights. Of course, depending on fight duration all fights may not make the PPV, just like UFC.

Hope that helps. If your new to Pride, these tournaments are a great way to identify the top fighters.


OK, two more matches announced today:

Fujita vs James Thompson

Alistair Overeem vs Fabricio Werdum (now official, mentioned it above as a probable)


Welcome! And I wish the best of luck to Minowa. My boy Mirko is in the shape of his life! Of course anything is possible, i.e. Randleman vs Mirko in 2004.


An actual member of the Japanese fan base, I simply must ask you a few questions. What is the popular opinion in Japan regarding the first Royce Gracie vs. Yoshia bout? Would most of your fellow Pride fans want to see Sakuraba fight Silva again or do they think he should retire? Why do professional wrestlers sign up for fights against experienced Pride fighters that they have no chance of beating?


Correct, supposedly Final Countdown (8 winners of the May 5 fight) will be in July and Final Conflict (semi-finals and final) will be in August or September. Also, it is widely rumored that Final Conflict will be in the United States. If you want to be introduced to Pride, this is way to do it. UFC has some incredible guys in the lighter classes, but the big boys play in Pride :slight_smile:


I was just on Big Nogs website hes fighting olympic medalist Rulon in the GPs first round.

The card looks stacked. Pride is still flirting with the idea of only having 14 fighters. And giving Fedor a first week bye.


You appear to be correct, this shit came out of nowhere! Should be a good technical match up, but I'm not looking forward to 20 minutes of lay 'n' pray. I hope they sign Coleman and go with a 16 fighter card. Chute Box vs Hammer House has some business to settle.


A question for Otoko as well;

How do the Japanese fans view the tattoed non-Japanese fighters. I notice none of (that I have noticed) Japapense fighters are tattoed and I believe that culturally tattoos still hold a criminal / underground association. Does that play into the perception / acceptance of the non-Japanese fighters or is it over-looked, disregarded due to the sport in which they are competing. Or is my understandning of tattoo acceptance out-dated.

I am under the impression aside from the new youth movement tattoos in Japan are still hush-hush and not socially acceptable.

Sorry for the side bar, but with the prevelance of tattoos in combat sports it is something I've always wondered.



I am not Japanese, but they cheer so damn loud for Silva (who is tattooed even on his skull) and Fedors younger brother (who actually has Russian Mafia ink on him) that i dont think its a major issue.

Like i said i am not Japanese, just stating what i think.


In regards to the first Royce-Yoshida fight, I think thats why they had a second fight.
I don
t know many people who think Sakaraba can beat Silva. I don`t think they want him to retire, just fight somebody who matches up better. There are alot of Silva fans, as well as Mirko fans.

Pro-wrestlers fight in Pride because, they are Japanese, meaning being Japanese alone will appeal to some of the less serious fans. They must have connections. Takada considers himself a pro-wrestler, as well as Sakuraba and Minowa. I think it is more of a marketing tactic.
Pride has a weird side to it. Freak matches, I hear UFC has only serious fights between pros. That is good.