Japan’s Rizin Fighting Federation will close out 2016 in the biggest way possible, with the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals of their hyped Openweight Grand Prix. The tournament quarterfinals will occur on December 29, while the semifinals and finals will occur two nights later on the 31.
Late on Tuesday night, the Japanese organization revealed the brackets for these final tournament rounds.
The most high profile bout of the quarterfinals will pair two Pride legends together as Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic and Wanderlei Silva collide for the third time. This quarterfinal round will also pit former UFC interim heavyweight champion Shane Carwin with decorated wrestler Amir Aliakbari. The bout will mark Carwin’s emergence from a retirement of almost 5 years. Finally, the quarterfinal round will also see Russia’s Valentine Moldavsky take on Poland’s Szymon Bajor, while sumo export “Baruto” Kaito Hoovelson will take on Japanese veteran Tsuyoshi Kosaka, who has stepped in to replace an injured Jiri Prochazka. All of these bouts will occur on the 29 of December.
Two nights later, the winners of the Silva vs. Cro Cop and Baruto vs. Kosaka bouts will collide, while the winners of the Carwin vs. Aliakbari and Moldavsky vs. Bajor bouts will do the same. The winners of these two bouts will then duke it out in the tournament final later that same night.
Wanderlei Silva vs. Mirko “Cro Cop” Filipovic
“Baruto” Kaito Hoovelson vs. Tsuyoshi Kosaka
Shane Carwin vs. Amir Aliakbari
Valentine Moldavsky vs. Szymon Bajor
Winner of Silva-Cro C0p vs. Winner of Baruto-Kosaka
Winner of Carwin-Aliakbari vs. Winner of Moldavsky-Bajor
Given the way this tournament is constructed, Rizin is clearly hoping that Carwin will take on either Silva or Cro Cop in the tournament final. As we know, however, one-night tournaments are prone to shakeups, and so its possible the end-result is entirely different.
Who do you see coming out on top in Rizin’s wild, end-of-year Grand Prix?