by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
After MMAWeekly reported that Ryo Chonan may not be able to continue in Pride’s 183-pound Bushido Grand Prix due to a fractured orbital bone, rumors started to circulate regarding Chonan’s potential replacement. It now appears as though Phil Baroni is the most likely candidate to take Chonan’s place in the second round of the tournament, if Chonan does end up having to withdraw due to his injury.

Pride has still not released an official statement regarding Chonan’s injury, possibly out of the hope that he may be able to heal in time for the next round. However, with a normal recovery time for a broken orbital bone of three to four months, it’s not likely that he will be able to compete in the second round of the tournament on August 26th.

Chonan defeated Joey Villasenor by split decision in the first round of the Grand Prix. Villasenor was originally at the top of the list of potential replacemnents, but now it appears that if Chonan is out, Baroni is back in.

Never one to rest and wait for a fight, Baroni is also entertaining the prospect of a fight with Frank Shamrock. At the recent Strikeforce show in San Jose, Shamrock called out Baroni for a possible showdown between the two middleweights.

“It would be an honor to fight him,” Baroni said in a statement to MMAWeekly. “I’m already signed. It’s up to Frank if he wants to fight me. He challenged me at Strikeforce, so I think it will be a go. He seemed like he was willing. We had some rivalry in the past. The ball is in his court.”

With the large crowds that were drawn to Strikeforce’s two recent MMA shows, another Frank Shamrock main event can only continue the promotion’s streak of robust business. Unless Pride objects to Baroni fighting in another organization, the Baroni-Shamrock fight could be signed and announced very soon.