It's now looking even more likely that Sergei Kharitonov and Mirko "Cro Cop" Filipovic will be the ones squaring off for a DREAM heavyweight title at Fighting & Entertainment Group's New Year event, as Filipovic prognosticated in a Croatian TV interview last week. MMARated's Ariel Helwani was first to report on Friday that Kharitonov's opponent for Tuesday's DREAM.6, "Mighty Mo" Siliga, had withdrawn from the bout for unspecified reasons; now, he's been removed from the fight card on the official DREAM site. Agent Ken Pavia tells Punch Drunk Gamer that one of his fighters - journeyman Jimmy "The Titan" Ambriz (pictured) - will step in to face the Russian on less than a week's notice. Ambriz most recently fought (and won) on a Rumble In The Cage card in May, though his last high profile fight was an MMA rules match against Jerome Le Banner at K-1 Hero's in 2006 where he was knocked out in two minutes. Mighty Mo would have been a solid challenge for the returning Sergei (at least until it went to the ground); now he's simply tuning up for Mirko against a guy who made #3 on Cage Potato's list of 10 Fighters Who Should Hang Up Their Gloves.
Another interesting DREAM.6 note: Japan-MMA is reports that the ratings-challenged show will not be airing live in its home country, but instead will air in edited form later in the evening (9PM) and as an uncut Pay-Per-View beginning at 11PM that night. This could very well mean nothing except that FEG and TBS want the show to go off without a hitch in order to secure better ratings now and in the future. The HDNet broadcast is still expected to air live.
Meanwhile, on World Victory Road, the semifinal match-ups for the conclusion of the Lightweight Grand Prix at Sengoku VI on November 1st have been unveiled:
If the opening round was any indication, these bouts (not to mention the finals later that night) could be some of the most explosive lightweight matches of the year. Jorge Masvidal and Ryan Schultz will square off at Sengoku V next Sunday to determine which fighter will move on to the GP's reserve bout.
WVR also announced today that Josh Barnett will participate on the November 1st card, though an opponent has not yet been selected. Barnett had been slated to face Andrei Arlovski at the now-rescheduled "Affliction: Day of Reckoning" show in October, a fight which Tom Atencio says is still happening in January.
UPDATE: DREAM exec Sasahara announced at a press conference today that Mighty Mo was injured in training and that FEG is still searching for an opponent. Cro Cop then offered to fight twice in one night, to which Kharitonov responded " I am appreciative of Mirko, yet I would like to fight you another time."