TAKADA ANNOUNCES 2 BOUTS FOR FINAL CONFLICT ABSOLUTE
07/17/2006

At a press July 13th press conference at the PRIDE Dreamers dojo, PRIDE General Director Nobuhiko Takada announced the matchups for the PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Final Round, to be held on September 10th at Saitama Super Arena.

▼ PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Semi-Final Match
Wanderlei Silva (Brazil/Chute Boxe Academy)
VS
Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic" (Croatia/Team Cro Cop)

Finally, a rematch that is long overdue! These two fighters met up on April 28, 2002 in PRIDE 20, where the match ended in a draw under special rules. Now, four years and five months later, the fighters will meet again in a match that both the fans and the fighters themselves wanted.
In the press conference on the day after the previous Second Round event, Silva expressed his desire for a rematch, saying, "If I were to chose, I definitely want to fight Mirko. Our last fight ended under with a draw under the special rules but I was winning. This time, I will end it. This time, I want to knock him out." The rules for their first match were, as Silva alluded to, five rounds of three minutes each with limited ground fighting and a mandatory draw if the fight went the distance.
According to Mirko's manager, Mirko also feels the same as Silva, saying that Mirko wants to come to a clear finish with Silva in a new venue and that Silva was probably would Mirko had imagined as his opponent in the semi-finals.
PRIDE's two strongest strikers will go head-to-head in a match that's almost guaranteed to end in a knockout.

▼ PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix 2006 Semi-Final
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira (Brazil/Brazilian Top Team)
VS
Josh Barnett (America/Freelance)

The match that fans have long awaited will finally become reality. In August of 2002, Josh entered the ring at the National Stadium in Yoyogi, turned to face Nogueira who had just beaten Bob Sapp in an all-out war and said "I'm your next opponent! Nogueira, you are already dead." The challenge was made but as fate would have, they never actually met up as opponents in the ring.
"My feelings about that haven't changed at all," Josh said. "I want to fight Nogueira. Nogueira isn't the Champion now but that doesn't matter. I knew I wanted to fight him since I went to ADCC for the first time and saw him. Because I know that if Nogueira and I are put in a match together, it will definitely be a good match. I believe we can have a great fight." Josh continued, "I'm better at striking and at takedowns, and I can counter his jujitsu with my submission wrestling."
Nogueira also seemed eager for this match up. "Josh certainly did challenge me in 2002. Truthfully, I wanted to fight him then but we'll have the opportunity to fight in this Grand Prix. If we fought in the Final Round, it would probably be a good fight. I'll do my best. I want to fight him when I'm 100%."
When Nogueira was the undefeated PRIDE Heavyweight Champion, Josh was the active in the US as the youngest Heavyweight Champion in UFC history. The winner of this fateful match will come one step closer to wearing a Championship belt again. Will it be Nogueira, or Barnett, that faces the winner of Mirko VS Silva in the Final Round?