DSE President Nobuyuki Sakakibara held a press conference recently in Tokyo to announce the PRIDE GP 2004 2nd Round card.
"The fans submitted their wishes to us through our (Japanese) home page and at the Opening Round event." Sakakibara continued, "Their wishes included having people from the same team and country fight each other and matchups between Nogueira, Fedor and Ogawa. We mixed these desires with ours, as the promoter, to come up with the August card."
Will Randleman steal the show again?
Fedor Emelianenko VS Kevin Randleman
This was the most-requested match-up by the fans. It'll be a battle between Fedor, who dominated Coleman in the Opening Round, and Randleman, who took out Mirko, one of the 3 favored fighters, with a single punch. Perhaps the fans are expecting another giant upset. Super-human body or Fedor's technique, which will come out on top?
A battle that will forever be written in PRIDE's history... and the rematch.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira VS Heath Herring
The date was November 3rd, 2001. The place was the Tokyo Dome. In their first match up, Herring and Nogueira fought a war that continues to be talked about today. The reason that Herring wants fight in the PRIDE GP is to give payback to the Big 3. According to Herring, he has the best chance of beating the Big 3 because he is the only one that has fought them all. Will Herring be able to defeat the man -the Champion- he lost to in 2001?
Judo versus the Giant Naoya Ogawa VS Giant Silva
Will the Russian commando take out his extra ordinary opponent?
Semmy Schilt VS Sergei Kharitonov
Kharitonov has arrived in the Heavyweight ranks, a line supported by Nogueira, Herring and his opponent, Schilt. Kharitonov shows us why people should fear his power in his Opening Round battle but it looks like there's still more to come. If he can beat Schilt, he will be a solid candidate to take the entire GP. Schilt, coming off a KO muay thai loss in Holland, said that this match would be no problem for him. Will Kharitonov change the pecking order or will Schilt put him in his place?
"The 2nd most requested fight was Ogawa VS Nogueira (6,678 votes)." Sakakibara explained, "We also wanted to see this but we, as the promoter, also wanted both of these fighters to remain. Bearing that in mind, we had to choose between Heath (Herring)(4,876 votes) and Silva (4,332 votes). I don't think Heath has a decidedly physical or technical advantage in any area over Ogawa. Accordingly, it's easy to see what a disadvantage anyone fighting Silva will face. Silva's is bigger and posses a lot of athletic ability. We felt that if Ogawa and Heath faced off, it wouldn't be very interesting, so that's how Silva was chosen."
Although it could be said that Ogawa has drawn the easiest of the remaining fighters, Sakakibara warned that this was not the case, "As you could see in his fight with Sentoryu in the Opening Round, Silva's ground technique is advancing. According to Silva himself, vale tudo is a place where he can develop a new athleticism within himself. He's done many sports such as basketball and pro-wrestling but he knows now that the one true way to use his size is in PRIDE. Now he wants to be on top. He's like the REAL Andre The Giant. Everything about him is huge and if he can put it all together, he will be a "giant" threat."
Silva said that his first PRIDE appearance, in the 2003 New Year's Eve show, woke up a hidden ability within him. He's been training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu, learning from one of Renzo Gracie's branch schools in New Jersey since the beginning of this year. Renzo's cousin and Silva's instructor, Ricardo, gave high ratings to the giant, "He's serious and learns quickly."
When Ogawa heard that Silva would be his opponent for the 2nd Round, he didn't really seem to care, "Anyone is fine. I'll train for that."
The card was originally scheduled to be announced last week but, according to Sakakibara, it took time to put together the most requested fight, Fedor VS Randleman, with 10,656 votes.
"We really wanted to put the fans' voices first and make this a reality but it took a little time to work out with Randleman. Although he went into those Mirko fight innocently, his victory over Mirko raised his awareness that he could actually win the GP. As a result, he wanted to avoid Fedor in the 2nd round but he eventually agreed because otherwise it would be insulting to Coleman." Sakakibara also said that if Randleman can take out a second of the Big 3, "there's a good possibility that he would challenge for the Heavyweight Title."
Randleman, Silva, Kharitonov and Heath will all be looking for upsets. Any upset at this point could rocket a dark horse to contender ranking. Will the 4 men be able to pull of upsets or will the favored fighters take it all? This PRIDE GP 2004 cannot be missed.
The previously noted reserve fighter, Ron Waterman, was only in reserve for the Opening Round. He does not remain a reserve fighter throughout the Grand Prix. An appropriate reserve fighter for the 2nd round will be selected from now.