ByRyan Matsunaga, writer at
MMA fan, BJJ enthusiast, and Executive Publisher at Creators Media.
Ryan Matsunaga

It's PRIDE all over again, for better or worse.

At the Rizin FF post-fight press conference earlier this week, Rizin president Nobuyuki Sakakibara made the surprise announcement that his promotion would be reviving the Grand Prix concept, and making it an open-weight competition to boot.

The tournament will take place over the course of two events, one in September and another on New Year's Eve. The opening round will take place at the Fall event, while the both the semifinals and the finals will happen on the same night at the New Year's Eve show. That latter event will be held at the Saitama Super Arena in Japan, a pretty historic location for longtime MMA fans.

Sakakibara commented that this is just the start of a slate of "unique events that only [Rizin] can do."

So far, only one fighter has been confirmed for the tournament: former PRIDE and UFC fighter Wanderlei Silva.

Silva made his Rizin debut this past weekend in a tag-team grappling match (no joke) with Kiyoshi Tamura, facing off against Kazushi Sakuraba and Hideo Tokoro. That bout ended in a draw.

As far as MMA goes, Silva was last seen at the most recent UFC event held in Japan (back in 2013), where he defeated Brian Stann via KO in the second round. Unfortunately for the former PRIDE champ, he was later suspended by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for dodging a drug test in 2014. He will not eligible to compete in the United States again until 2017.

Rizin meanwhile just put on their third event, and features fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko on their roster. It has not yet been available to watch in North America, but Sakakibara has stated that they are working on a solution to make this possible.


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