News was leaked today to the general public that undefeated prospect Amir Aliakbari is now facing Heath Herring in the Rizin GP quarterfinal round. Aliakbari knew for about a week that Shane Carwin was pulled from their fight. Rizin has been scrambling to find a replacement opponent for Aliakbari, who has been training for “TBD”. Rizin was able to nab MMA legend Heath Herring, as Aliakbari’s quarterfinal opponent. Herring will take Shane Carwin’s spot.
The opponent change is just the latest drama surrounding the Grand Prix tournament. Mirko Cro Cop and Wanderlei Silva were supposed to go at it for the 3rd time, but Silva had to pull out because of car accident injuries that he sustained in May. Cro Cop about lost his mind and took to his Facebook page.
“Once he was a fearless and true axe murder but now he’s just a scared homie and only thing he can kill is his mosquito. And Wanderlei, don’t you dare to come to Saitama to see the tournament like a guest because I will slap you like a bitch just like you deserve, you are nothing but a scared bitch and I had so much respect for you as a fighter until now. I suggest a new name for you that will fit you well… WANDERLEI “THE CHICKEN” SILVA.”
Wanderlei responded on his youtube channel.
“Are you only a man in front of the computer, pussy? Who do you think you are talking to?”
I just want everyone to be clear that this is Cro Cop and Wanderlei, not McGregor and Diaz.
Bellator put out a press release regarding King Mo Lawal taking Wanderlei’s place in the Grand Prix and the rumor is that he will fight Cro Cop. Last year, King Mo won the 2015 Rizin GP tournament and looks to do it again in 2016. Lawal beat Satoshi Ishii on December 16 in Bellator and will compete in the Rizin quarterfinal round against Cro Cop on December 29.
Heath Herring has been named as Amir Aliakbari’s opponent, now that Carwin is out. We last saw Herring compete in a decision loss to Brock Lesnar 8 years ago. Herring is a 43 fight veteran and still only 38 years old. Aliakbari shared his thoughts about his new opponent with mikeswick.com.
“The fact that Rizin chose Heath Hearing to be my opponent doesn’t make a difference for me. It’s not the first time they are changing my opponent. I’ll fight anyone. All I want is the belt. I hope Mirko CroCop wins his fight, so I can end up winning the belt from him. I had a great camp with Mike Swick, Ali Estaki, and Marcio Cesar at AKA Thailand and I am in the best shape to beat them all!”
We actually reached out to TUF 1 alum, Aliakbari’s head trainer, and Guv’nor of this site, Mike Swick.
“Amir had his first MMA training session with me at AKA Thailand less than 2 years ago and he is already 3-0. He has all first round KO’s and is fighting in the RIZIN World Grand Prix! He is one of the hardest workers that I have ever trained and just a world class athlete. I have no doubt that he can beat any and all of the men they put in front of him in this tournament. I am so excited for this one!”
Amir seems to be training like a crazy man at AKA Thailand. He is being a realist about the fight life during his embryonic career. Fighters get hurt, fall ill, or have an elevator fall when they are in it; You have to be prepared regardless of circumstances. THAT is what separates fighters from the rest of us. Swick continued:
“Heath Herring is a veteran and a very well rounded opponent. Since we knew Shane was out, we have been training for every type of fighter. This doesn’t change my mindset going into this. Now he has a face to go with the fight… So let’s go. I actually spent some time with Heath in Iraq doing a Military Support Tour and he is a nice guy. But I wouldn’t want to be him on December 29th.“
Rizin Openweight Grand Prix quarterfinal is set for December 29, 2016:
Cro Cop vs King Mo
Valentin Moldavsky vs Szymon Bajor
Tsuyoshi Kohsaka vs Baruto Kaito
Heath Herring vs Amir Aliakbari
Take a glimpse into a day of training with Amir at AKA Thailand in this Behind The Lens episode: