by Ivan Trembow – MMAWeekly.com
Dream Stage Entertainment has officially announced the second round match-ups for the 2006 Open Weight Grand Prix. In what will likely be the main event, Mirko Cro Cop will face Hidehiko Yoshida. Also, Wanderlei Silva, who replaced Fedor Emelianenko in the tournament when Fedor had to pull out due to injury, will face Kazuyuki Fujita. The other two bouts are Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira vs. Fabricio Werdum, and Josh Barnett vs. Mark Hunt.
Based on the original “odds to win the tournament” that were made before the first round took place and before Wanderlei Silva was added to the tournament, Cro Cop would be the favorite over Yoshida, but only a slight favorite, while Nogueira would be the favorite over Werdum, and Hunt would be the favorite over Barnett. Having already defeated the man who was originally ranked by oddsmakers as the #3 most likely fighter to win the entire tournament (Aleksander Emelianenko), Barnett will now get a chance to defeat Hunt, the man who was originally ranked as the #2 most likely fighter to win the entire tournament.
In addition to the four tournament match-ups, DSE also announced the non-tournament fight of Kazuhiro Nakamura vs. Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, a Chute Boxe fighter from Brazil who will be making his Pride debut. The Nakamura vs. Cyborg fight will have a 205-pound weight limit.
The second round of the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix is scheduled to take place in Japan on July 1st, but as of now it will have no television clearance in Japan other than the satellite-based Sky PerfecTV, due to Fuji TV’s cancellation of its contract with DSE. The event will debut on North American pay-per-view outlets on Sunday night, July 2nd.