Dream Stage Entertainment has announced on its Japanese web site that Fedor Emelianenko has been forced to withdraw from the Pride Open Weight Grand Prix, and his replacement will be none other than "The Axe Murderer," Wanderlei Silva.
Dream Stage had hoped that Fedor would be ready to fight in time for the second round of the Grand Prix when it takes place on July 1st, but the surgery to repair Fedor's severely damaged hand has a very long recovery process. Fedor's doctor stated that the metal plate in Fedor's hand would not be ready to be surgically removed until June at the earliest, which would make it impossible for Fedor to fight on July 1st.
Pride Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva will now get the first-round bye that was originally given to Fedor as the Heavyweight Champion, and will complete what is arguably the best "final eight" in any tournament in the history of MMA. The eight quarter-finalists are Wanderlei Silva, Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, Mirko Cro Cop, Mark Hunt, Hidehiko Yoshida, Josh Barnett, Kazuyuki Fujita, and Fabricio Werdum. The quarter-final match-ups will be announced in the coming weeks.