A press conference was held in Tokyo on June 25 to announce 7 of the middleweight fighters that will compete in the August 10th PRIDE GP 2003 opening round. However, there's still one spot open! Who will be Mr. X?

PRIDE GP 2003 Opening Round Lineup (August 10th)

Ricardo Arona (Free)
Alistair Overeem (Golden Glory)
Chuck Liddell (Pit Fight Team)
Quinton Jackson (Team Oyama)
Wanderlei Silva (Chute Boxe Academy)
Kazushi Sakuraba (Takada Dojo)
Hidehiko Yoshida (Yoshida Dojo)




Arona, the man who took down Mezger, Henderson and Ninja, was the first to enter the press conference. Second, Alistair Overeem made his entrance. Overeem took out Mirko Cro Cop's training partner, Bencic, at PRIDE 26. The fans present gave a big cheer to these 2 middleweight fighters.

There was a commotion in the meeting hall when the next fighter's name was called. He was none other than the UFC representative, Chuck Liddell. Finally a champion-class fighter from the UFC will fight in PRIDE!

The next fighter to enter is a bomb just waiting to go off. The fans went wild as Quinton "Rampage" Jackson made his entrance. Jackson walked the walk, sporting his trademark chain around his neck.

Jackson's rival and current Middleweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva, had a stern look on his face as he entered, giving Jackson only a quick glance before he took his seat.

Finally, Kazushi Sakuraba came out to take his seat.

Although his participation in the tournament has already been announced, Hidehiko Yoshida was unable to attend the press conference due to personal reasons.

Who is the 8th fighter?
8 fighters are needed for the tournament but only 7 have been decided. Who will fill the 8th man's spot? When asked about this, Nobuhiko Takada, General Manager of PRIDE, said, " The lineup (of fighters) is really big and it's a tough decision to make. The one thing you can be absolutely sure of is that the final member will be top class and won't be inferior to any of these guys you see here today." President Sakakibara continued, "It's a thrilling sight to see these fighters lined up together. I'm really looking forward to August 10th." (When asked about the remaining fighter) "There really are a lot of candidate fighters. We haven't been able to decide up till this point but we expect to decide within the next week to 10 days. This will allow the fighters a month to train." Apparently we can expect the 8th fighter to be announced in the beginning of July.

Furthermore, the Sports Producer from one of Japan's largest TV networks, Fuji Television, made the announcement that this will be the first PRIDE to be broadcast on regular television in Japan. Only the final match will be shown on PPV.

Director Takada went on to explain the details surrounding the selected fighters. "These fighters were not chosen solely by DSE. I think all of the fans that see them will understand. The all have solid records and a lot of strength. I don't think it will be an upset regardless of who wins."

However, there was another man there with something to say. Renzo Gracie, promised by Takada at PRIDE 26 that a Gracie would fight, had also come to the press conference. There were no Gracie fighters to be seen on stage this day, though. What's going on?

Renzo Gracie: Takada, you said that a Gracie could fight in the Grand Prix. I'm ready. My brothers are ready. What is this?

Nobuhiko Takada: I know, Renzo. I know that the Gracies are true men. Look at these fighters here. All of these fighters are real men. You've got to give me more time.

Renzo Gracie: ...I see.

New Venture With The UFC
There still remained one big point to mention, UFC fighter Chuck Liddell's participation. President Sakakibara was all praise; " The UFC responded very quickly to our challenge and sent a top-class fighter. We appreciate that greatly."

UFC President, Dana White, responded "The reason I came to Japan today is that PRIDE declared war on the UFC. I've been very interested in putting together a fight with PRIDE since Chuck Liddell KOed Guy Mezger in PRIDE 14. The fighter that I really wanted to have someone fight against is the current Middleweight Champion, Wanderlei Silva. However, since the Grand Prix is an opportunity to fight against many of PRIDE's middleweight fighters, I felt Chuck Liddell is the most appropriate. I'm happy to accept PRIDE's challenge. I believe that Chuck Liddell will come out on top of this tournament. He's the top among middleweight fighters in the UFC, PRIDE or anywhere else in the world. If there is any PRIDE fighter who wants to challenge the UFC, I would welcome it."