In a Tokyo press conference held on January 15 th at the Dream Stage Entertainment office, CEO Nobuyuki Sakakibara announced the schedule for 2006, part of which will be an open-weight class Grand Prix.

Following the December 31 st SHOCKWAVE event, Sakakibara commented, We are thinking about a Heavyweight Grand Prix or an open-weight Grand Prix, kicking off at the Osaka Dome on May 5th and running through July and September. If we are going to have an open-weight event, we will coordinate the heavyweight fighters, in addition to lightweight and welterweight fighters, as the event approaches.EThis comment became a reality at today's conference.

The tournament will begin with the PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix First Round on May 5 th (Friday) at the Osaka Dome, followed by the PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix Second Round in early July and the PRIDE Open-Weight Grand Prix Final Round in early September (both events to be held at the Saitama Super Arena). The event is planned to begin with 16 fighters.

I spoke with (Wanderlei) Silva and Shogun (Mauricio Rua), and both of them are very eager to enter the Open-Weight Grand Prix. As far as Japanese go, there's (Hidehiko) Yoshida, (Kazushi) Sakuraba and Youkaizan, who will make his debut in PRIDE 31. We're also considering Japanese fighters that won't be on the PRIDE 31 card,ESakakibara said.

Additionally, there are plans to hold a 16-fighter Lightweight or Welterweight Grand Prix in BUSHIDO. Although the Open-Weight Grand Prix will primarily consist of Heavyweight and Middleweight fighters, Sakakibara suggested that Lightweights and Welterweights may also participate, Dan Henderson has said that he wants to represent the Welterweight Division in the Open-Weight Grand Prix, and it's possible that (Takanori) Gomi, a Lightweight, may also fight.E