by Scott Petersen
MMAWeekly’s Scott Petersen checks in from Japan as Pride has now announced both the Lightweight and Welterweight tournament pairings.

The Welterweight (83kg/183lbs) Pairings:
Bracket A:
– Phil Baroni (USA) vs. Ikuhisa “The Punk” Minowa (Japan)
– Masanori Suda (Japan) vs. Murilo Bustamante (Brazil)

Bracket B:
– Ryo Chonan (Japan) vs. Dan Henderson (USA)
– Akihiro Gono (Japan) vs. Daniel Acacio (Brazil)

Welterweight Tournament Reserve Bout
Ryuta Sakurai (Japan) vs. Paulo Filho (Brazil)

The Lightweight (73kg/160lbs) Pairings:
Lightweight Tournament Bouts
Bracket A:
– Takanori Gomi (Japan) vs. Tatsuya Kawajiri (Japan)
– Naoyuki Kotani (Japan) vs. Luis Azeredo (Brazil)

Bracket B:
– Hayato “Mach” Sakurai (Japan) vs. Jens Pulver (USA)
– Yves Edwards (USA) vs. Joachim Hansen (Norway)

Lightweight Tournament Reserve Bout
Dokonjonosuke Mishima (Japan) vs. Charles “Krazy Horse” Bennett (USA)

Pride Bushido 9 has shaped up to be one of the most talent packed cards in the history of the sport, especially if you are a fan of the lighter weight fighters.

Consider that some of the stunning opening round pairings match up Joachim Hansen against Yves Edwards in a fight that was originally supposed to have taken place nearly two years ago in the United States, but didn’t happen due to the injury to Hansen’s hand. Back at 100%, this fight pits two of the top five lightweight fighters in the world against each other.

If that weren’t enough, Takanori Gomi and Tatsuya Kawajiri, arguably the number one and two ranked lightweights in the world, are facing off in the first round of bouts. The arguments have gone back and forth as to who is ranked where, now the two will settle it in the ring.

Also highlighting the Lightweight tourney is what is sure to be a battle as Japanese legend Hayato “Mach” Sakurai drops down to his new weight to throw down with American Jens Pulver, who may have the best hands in the lightweight division.

The Middleweight division is just as stacked. A revitalized Phil Baroni rematches Ikuhisa “The Punk” Minowa, whom he knocked out in the second round of their initial matchup.

Dan Henderson drops down to the weight that fans have been clammoring at him to fight at for years, as he steps into the ring against rising Japanese star Ryo Chonan.

Former UFC Middleweight Champion Murilo Bustamante looks to keep on the winning track having won only the last of his four most recent fights. Busta will have his work cut out for him though as he steps in against former SuperBrawl champion Masanori Suda.

However you look at it, Prides September 25th Bushido card is stacked to the hilt and hits American pay-per-view on September 28th.