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Friday, August 05, 2016

No Holds Barred: Jerry Millen on Rizin Open Weight Tournament 

On this edition of No Holds Barred, host Eddie Goldman spoke with Jerry Millen, senior vice president of the Rizin Fighting Federation.

Rizin's next show will take place Sunday, September 25, featuring the opening round of their 2016 open weight MMA tournament. The second round will take place Thursday, December 29, with the finals at the traditional Japanese MMA New Year's Eve show, on Saturday, December 31. All these shows are scheduled to take place at the Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, with international television and streaming availability to be announced soon.

We spoke with Jerry Millen by phone Thursday.

Discussing this open weigh tournament, all of whose participants have not yet been announced, he explained that it will feature a mix of veteran fighters and potential rising stars.

"Cro Cop's fighting, obviously. We haven't announced his opponent yet," he said.

"Also, there's a bunch of young, up-and-coming fighters that we've signed at Rizin, and also from various promotions, who will be fighting. Jiří Procházka, guys like that, really strong, young MMA talent coming up, who'll be fighting on the 25th to earn a spot to move up to December 29th, which will actually begin the eight-man portion of the tournament, where Wanderlei Silva take place." After being the victim of a hit-and-run car accident recently, Wanderlei had surgery and is now rehabbing, he added.

"Cro Cop hopefully will move on," he said, setting up a potential New Year's Eve tournament final of Cro Cop vs. Wanderlei.

A key reason for using veterans such as Wanderlei and Cro Cop is to bring back the old fans of Pride, he said. Much of MMA, and especially UFC, are becoming "homogenized," he argued. "It needs to be fun again." At the same time, as Rizin strives to become "Pride 2.0", it will develop young fighters who may one day become the new Cro Cops, Sakurabas, etc.

In addition, we discussed the upcoming MMA debut of three-time world wrestling champion Miyuu Yamamoto. She is scheduled to make that debut on the September 25th Rizin event against an opponent to be announced. Also on this card will be her son, Erson Yamamoto, making it the first time in MMA history where a mother and son will be fighting on the same card.

We also discussed the prospects for seeing Fedor Emelianenko in Rizin again, how Rizin operates as a federation and cooperates with numerous MMA promotions all over the world, how long Dana White might last with the UFC under their new ownership and management, and much more.

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