Even if the MMA world tailspun into utter chaos, one absolute certainty would remain: Pride never dies.
The aura of the long defunct Japanese MMA organization surrounds fans and every fight card that occurs post-Pride. Anytime there is an illegal kick to a downed opponent? Pride is there. When Bob Sapp decides to get knocked out again for a pay day? Pride is there.
This mantra is all the more evident now, as Rizin breaks out of the violent cocoon that was our beloved Pride's shell.
Of course, this beautiful MMA butterfly transformation would not be complete without the best tournament format in fight sports: the Grand Prix. Not just any Grand Prix though, Rizin is going peak JMMA with a 16-Man Openweight Grand Prix.
Here is everything we know about the tournament so far.
Fighters From All Over the Earth
In order to determine just who is the best fighter in the world today, Rizin Fighting Federation will hold an open weight tournament. The tournament will take place on September 25th, December 29th, and finish with the finals on December 31st. The tournament will have 16 of the world’s best fighters, with names like Wanderlei Silva, Mirko Filipović, Kazuyuki Fujita, and Baruto already confirmed to appear.
Not only does Rizin present us with the gift of Wanderlei Silva and Cro Cop fighting while under American suspension, they have gathered talent from nearly twenty organizations to participate in the Grand Prix. Rizin will need that pool of fighters from across the entire planet in order to find suitable opponents for the mighty Sumo, Baruto.
Back in August, the internet got turned upside down when Cro Cop posted a teaser poster making it seem like he and Fedor Emelianenko would fight in the tournament. Multiple sources debunked the rumor, but in Pride 2.0, anything can happen.
Before the official announcements, Rizin encouraged fans to use the #RIZIN2016 hashtag to voice their opinion on who they would like to have fight in the Openweight Grand Prix.
They put the names that have received the most tweets on their website:
- Sergei Kharitonov
- Fedor Emelianenko
- Jiří Procházka
- King Mo
- Vitaly Minakov
- Josh Barnett
- Alexandru Lungu
- Roger Gracie
- Mark Hunt
- Amir Aliakbari
- Bobby Lashley
- Teodoras Aukstuolis
- Kirill Sidelnikov
The Complete Grand Prix
The search is over. The combatants participating in the Rizin Grand Prix were spread farther than the Dragonballs, but were all brought together to fight for a belt, money and to honor the warrior spirit. Mr. Emelianenko was not able to be brought into Japan on a Russian warship to fight Cro Cop, but rumor is he was offered $2 million to at least fight on the New Years Eve show.
Here is Cro Cop's official opponent and the all of the Grand Prix match-ups:
Mirko Cro Cop vs Hyun Man Myong
Teodoras Aukstuolis vs. Szymon Bajor
Amir Aziz Aliakbar vs. Joan Almeida
Karl Albrektsson vs. Valentin Moldavsky
Jiří Procházka vs. Mark Tanios
Baruto vs Kazuyuki Fujita
Who has the best shot of becoming the "Champion of Champions"?
The Entire Official Card
In addition to the six tournament fights, there are seven other MMA fights.
This is the entire card for the Rizin 2016 show on September 25th. The Grand Prix results will determine who goes into the second round on December 29th. Wanderlei Silva gets an automatic bye from the first round of the tournament.
Will they just go ahead and make Cro Cop vs Wanderlei Silva 3? Or will Silva be thrown to one of the young lions? Will a wild Fedor appear?
Only the MMA gods (and maybe Nobuyuki Sakakibara) knows.
Get hyped by watching the official promo below:
How Can I Watch Rizin?
Half the battle with Japanese MMA has always been being able to find ways to watch it. Sure, you can always find some grainy Youtube video later, but what if you want to watch live? Well, EverSport will be giving Rizin fight fans the golden gift of an official stream on their website.