by Al Yu for MMAWeekly.com
After two exciting events, this year’s Pride Absolute Grand Prix has produced two stellar final four match-ups. Brazilian Top Team’s Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira will meet former UFC heavyweight champion Josh Barnett while the current Pride middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva will face Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic. Anticipation for Pride Final Conflict Absolute is high as the match-ups are an MMA fan’s dream.
Dream Stage Entertainment, the parent company of Pride Fighting Championships, is looking to rebound from recent setbacks with a successful show. The most intriguing match-up of the event is arguably the rematch between Wanderlei Silva and Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic. The two fighters met at Pride 20 and fought to a draw under special rules. The majority of the MMA community agreed that Silva would have won a decision had they fought under normal rules.
Recently, Mirko told two Croatian newspapers, Jutarji List and Vecernji List, that he would not be participating in the last part of the Absolute Grand Prix. Apparently, Mirko’s decision to not participate stemmed from a dispute regarding his pay. According to the newspapers, Mirko stated that “We couldn’t make a deal. They said I’m too expensive for them but I just want to be paid for the risk. I’m very sorry for my fans but I won’t give up on my principles.”
But now the crisis is over and the Croatian star was able to come to an agreement with Pride DSE and is fighting in the Open Weight GP in September according to Vecernji List. If DSE was unable to secure Mirko’s participation in the final four, a potentially historic event could have taken a disastrous turn for the worse. In addition, the newspaper reported that “CroCop” received a substantial offer to fight for the recently resurrected World Fighting Alliance. Mirko is one of Pride’s main stars and his absence would have been a huge loss to the organization. Pride DSE felt that it was in their best interest to come to a compromise with the former K-1 kick boxer and now the fans will be able to see Cro Cop in the conclusion of the highly anticipated tournament.