On the last stop of their 3-day media tour, Pride Fighting Championships saved the best for last. At the Fox Sports Grill in Irvine, California last night, the promotion announced two of the pairings for their October 21st, United States debut, as well as, many of the other fighters slated to participate.
In somewhat of a surprise move, Pride announced that heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko will face Mark “The Hammer” Coleman and Middleweight Grand Prix champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua will square off with Coleman’s teammate Kevin Randleman.
With the already announced participation of Coleman and Rua, it was highly speculated that the two would be paired up when Pride debuts in Las Vegas. Rua has been very vocal about wanting a rematch since being upset by Coleman in February earlier this year. Pride instead opted for the Emelianenko-Coleman rematch.
Perhaps the biggest surprise at the press conference was the attendance and announcement of former undisputed heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson. According to Pride president Nobuyuki Sakakibara, “We have formed an alliance with Mike Tyson and we are planning projects replete with MMA appeal. He’s not merely a guest, but a partner who will help us create an MMA revolution.”
However, neither Pride nor Tyson would give any specific details as to their partnership when he was asked if he will be fighting for the promotion in the future. Tyson would only say, “I am happy that I can be a part of PRIDE, which is a great organization. I can’t comment on my contract, because it’s confidential.”
Whether or not he ever fights for the organization, Tyson’s presence at the press conference and his planned attendance at the October 21st event are sure to ignite plenty of speculation.
Also announced, although no further pairings were stated, were the intended participation of several other Pride stars for “The Real Deal” fight card at the Thomas & Mack Center. The card now also features Josh Barnett, Kazuyuki Fujita, Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic, Phil Baroni, Vitor Belfort, and middleweight champion Wanderlei Silva.
With UFC president Dana White’s recent comments in a Canadian interview in regards to an already announced bout between UFC champion Chuck Liddell and Wanderlei Silva in the UFC in November, “I don’t even know if Silva’s going to happen… the Japanese are very hard to do business with and you never know what’s going to happen,” and Pride’s announcement of Silva on their October 21st U.S. debut, it now seems apparent that the bout between the two champions is off.