Rory MacLeod Reporting:
The producers of DREAM, the new Japanese MMA promotion borne out of the ashes of PRIDE and K-1 HERO'S, have set forth their “dream” match for the annual end-of-year fight festival known as Dynamite: a rematch between former PRIDE aces Fedor Emelianenko and Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic.
CroCop fought most recently at the inaugural DREAM event, easily dispatching Pancrase veteran Tatsuya Mizuno via TKO in a mere 56 seconds. Emelianenko's last fight occurred at the Yarennoka New Year's Eve show, where he submitted 7'2″ K-1 giant Hong Man Choi via arm bar in the opening round. Both matches were held at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama, Japan, the former “home court” of PRIDE FC.
While the DREAM producers are excited at the opportunity to stage a rematch of one of the biggest PRIDE fights ever, the bout would be contingent on the success of each fighter during the interim. A source indicates that both Emelianenko and Filipovic are expected to compete at least once more for DREAM in the meantime.
Their original contest, staged at PRIDE – Final Conflict in August of 2005, became one of the most talked about MMA fights in history, as Emelianenko was able to back down the K-1 veteran with impressive striking, and apply his superior ground game en route to a unanimous decision victory.
After CroCop bounced back to capture the 2006 PRIDE Open Weight Grand Prix Championship, many expected he would be granted a rematch with Fedor in PRIDE. But the Croatian Sensation would surprise the MMA world by being one of the first top PRIDE fighters to cross over to the UFC.
On a Japanese TV special previewing the DREAM.1 event, Emelianenko was touted as one of the elite stars of the new promotion. CroCop appeared in a brief interview segment where he expressed his desire to reclaim his place among the top MMA heavyweights in the world and earn a second shot at Fedor, after his disappointing 1-2 run in the UFC.