by Ricardo Mendoza – MMAWeekly.com
Carlos Newton has pulled out his scheduled first round tournament fight against Melvin Manhoef, which was scheduled to take place on the August 5th Hero’s show, due to a torn ligament in his right knee.

Hero’s has announced that Pride Bushido veteran Crosley Gracie has agreed to step up on short notice to replace Newton in the fight.

Crosley Gracie was already in Japan because he has been helping his cousin, Rodrigo Gracie, prepare to fight Shungo Oyama in Hero’s. Crosley Gracie will now fight Melvin Manhoef in the first round of the Hero’s 187-pound tournament.

The other first-round match-ups in the 187-pound tournament are MMA legend Kazushi Sakuraba vs. Kestutis Smirnovas, rising Japanese star Yoshihiro Akiyama vs. Kin Taiei, and Crosley’s cousin Rodrigo Gracie vs. Shungo Oyama.

Melvin Manhoef is a dangerous Dutch striker who normally fights at 205 pounds. He holds KO/TKO victories over Ian Freeman, Evangelista “Cyborg” Santos, and Shungo Oyama since the beginning of 2006, and he is the Light Heavyweight Champion in the Cage Rage promotion out of England.

Crosley Gracie has only had three fights under MMA rules, but the second of those fights was a big upset win over Hayato “Mach” Sakurai in 2004. However, in Crosley’s next fight in Pride Bushido, he lost by unanimous decision to Akihiro Gono in May 2005, and Crosley has not fought since then.

It’s going to be interesting to see how Crosley Gracie performs on short notice against a top-notch fighter like Melvin Manhoef.

It will also be interesting to see where Carlos Newton goes from here. Newton has not fought since 2004, but he recently signed on to be a coach in the IFL. The Newton-coached Toronto Dragons team will debut on the IFL’s September 23rd event in Illinois.