The quarterfinal match-ups for Rizin FF’s open weight tournament have been revealed.
On one side of the bracket, former Pride FC and UFC veterans Mirko ‘Cro Cop’ Filipovic and Wanderlei Silva square off for a third time. The pair met twice previously, fighting to a draw at Pride 20 in 2002 and then again at Pride FC: Final Conflict Absolute in 2006, where the Croatian Filipovic knocked out the Brazilian Silva with his patented head kick.
Joining Filipovic and Silva on that side of the ladder will be the massive, 360-pound Kaido “Baruto” Hoovelson, who clashes with Japanese veteran Tsuyoshi Kosaka. Baruto has earned two wins since transitioning to MMA, besting kickboxing legend Peter Aerts and longtime Japanese MMA staple Kazuyuki Fujita. The 46-year-old UFC veteran Kosaka is perhaps best known for his controversial, 17-second TKO win over Fedor Emelianenko under the Rings banner.
In the other side of the tournament bracket, former UFC interim heavyweight titleholder Shane Carwin returns to competition against Iran’s Amir Aliakbari. The Colorado native Carwin returns from a three-year retirement stint looking to add to his impressive 12 first-round finishes. His only losses have come against former champions Brock Lesnar and Junior dos Santos. Aliakbari, meanwhile, has quickly racked up a similar reputation for finishing through his three career fights. The 28-year-old has stopped all three of his opponents in the first round.
The tournament’s final pairing will see Russia’s Valentine Moldavsky take on Polands’ Szymon Bajor. The 24-year-old Moldavsky is a protege of the aforementioned Emelianenko and is a Sambo champion. Bajor, a KSW veteran, earned his ticket to the quarterfinals with a win over Teodoras Aukstuolis in September.
The four quarterfinal fights will take place on Dec. 29 at the Saitama Super Arena in Tokyo. The night’s winners will move on to the semifinals and finals, which will both take place on Dec. 31. The quarterfinal and semifinal match-ups will consist of two, five-minute rounds, while the finals will be three, five-minute rounds.