Bellator 180 is the summer combat sports spectacular that will heat up Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y., on June 24, 2017, featuring bitter rivals Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen finally settling their war of words with four ounce gloves in the pay-per-view (PPV) main event of the evening.
To continue building anticipation for this explosive show, Bellator MMA will today (June 13, 2017) hold a media press conference with five of its biggest stars on the line, including Sonnen and Silva, as well as Welterweight champion Douglas Lima, his opponent Lorenz Larkin and, of course, company president Scott Coker.
MMAmania.com’s Steve Juon will be on the line for the call, providing key updates and select excerpts of the conference call below. In addition, we have posted a full audio replay at the top of this article.
Scott Coker kicked off the call with a major announcement: Former Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) ringside announcer, Mike Goldberg, and ex-Pride FC personality, Mauro Ranallo, will be joining Bellator MMA’s broadcast team. He was then asked if there’s a backup plan if any fights fall through.
“I’d like to have a contingency plan, which we do for this event, but I feel really confident — I mean we’re only 10 days away. In this sport whether it’s us or any other league these injuries happen. There are just things that happen. We feel really good about our two big fights coming up and we feel they’re going to deliver in a big way next Saturday at Madison Square Garden.”
Coker was also asked about how Goldberg and Ranallo were signed.
“It was quite a long process in talking with Goldie, and Mauro we’ve been talking to him for a while, too. What it came down to was Sean approached us about our fall schedule coming up, and basketball being a big part of his life and part of his business, he didn’t feel he could do some of the stuff we wanted to do internationally. We started talking to other guys and it just kind of worked out. Sean’s been great, but we think Mauro and Goldie will be great, too.”
Sonnen was asked why he thought Wanderlei Silva no-showed a previously scheduled in-person press conference in Los Angeles.
“I trust that he’ll make it (for the fight), but I can’t deny that he didn’t come (to Los Angeles). I was on my way to the airport, I had my bag packed, I was literally in the car and hit a U-turn. Yeah man I think there’s some obligation when you’re on top of the bill, but it is a long trip for a press conference to have to sit there and be treated like a fool so I understood that part of it, too.”
Sonnen also talked about how satisfying it is to finally get to face Silva in the cage.
“Man, it’s the only fight I’ve wanted for the longest time. It doesn’t just go back those four years, that’s when I finally had a signed contract to compete with Wanderlei, but I’ve been wanting to fight Wanderlei since he was in PRIDE. I’ve been wanting to fight Wanderlei while I was still fighting down at the dog park in front of my mom and dad and aunt and uncle and nobody else was there and I’m watching this guy on TV. I’ve just always wanted to fight Wanderlei Silva. I’ve been poking my finger in his chest before anybody else. Wanderlei went through a very long period of his career where he was the scariest guy out there, nobody ever called out Wanderlei. I was calling him out back when it was unfashionable. It’s the only match that I want.”
Silva says he’s equally thrilled to finally get to fight with someone he personally dislikes.
“First thing, I want to say thanks to Scott to make the fight happen, because after what this guy’s doing to me here in Brazil, I want to beat him so bad. I don’t know why he do a lot of bad things over here and I’ll give him what he deserves. Man, in 10 days, count. Nine, eight ... Silva’s gonna catch you motherfucker!”
Silva was asked why he missed the first scheduled press conference in Los Angeles.
“When I see Chael, I don’t know what’s going to happen. He’s playing with the wrong guy. For me when I see Chael in the same room it’s better to have security because something is going to happen. I’m 200 percent. I trained for this fight for eight months. I’m really, really ready. I have some guy to beat right now, after this we’re gonna see what happens.”
Sonnen was asked about the stories that can be told at Bellator 180.
“This whole card had storylines up and down. There’s not even enough time. There’s so much drama and so much action. It makes it hard for me to focus because I am such a fan.”
Coker talked about the global reach of this Bellator card.
“This product will be aired in 163 countries around the world. I think more countries than ever in the history of Bellator will be able to watch the fights live as it happens and on VOD around the world. From top to bottom we think we have a great night of fights and like Chael said earlier you get two for the price of one. If you’re a combat sports fan this is a great night to sit back and watch fights on TV.”
Douglas Lima was asked if the fight with Lorenz Larkin proves he’s the best at Welterweight.
“I think in my eyes I belong in the top of the division, it doesn’t matter which organization, but this is just a chance to prove I belong there. I’m very excited for this fight. In my eyes it’s the main event.”
Sonnen was asked about his desire to fight Fedor Emelianenko.
“Yeah definitely, of course, that’s the one thing about Bellator — you’re not completely confined to your weight class. Anybody you can compete with. I really do believe you gotta take on anybody. Man, if you want to compete go out and compete. Anybody they’ve got let’s go out and compete do the best we can and go on.”
Silva was asked what he’d do if he ran into Sonnen before the fight.
“I’m professional (but) I hope I see (Sonnen) just inside the cage. The rules are different here than in the U.S. In the U.S. you can talk all you want nobody gonna do nothing. In Brazil it’s different. He know what he’s doing over here. He knows what he deserves. He did a lot of bad things here. Now it’s time for payback.”
Sonnen drew a line in the sand and dare Silva to cross it.
“I don’t like Wanderlei Silva. Everybody watching has somebody in the office has somebody that if they could fight they would. I don’t like him, he doesn’t like me. He’s making it like he’s right and I’m wrong. I’ll be wrong, I don’t care. Let’s fight on June 24 -- how about that? Silva, you attacked me. Whatever I can do to you I’ll do within the rules. If you attack my wife there are no rules.”
Coker then dished on the Spike TV main event going five rounds and which fights will go on pay per view.
“We’re ready for (Bader vs. Davis) to go the distance. If it doesn’t we have a contingency plan. We’re gonna be selective, like the boxing model. When the fight is big enough we’re gonna put them on (pay per view).”
Silva reiterated how grateful he is to be fighting at Bellator 180.
“I’m restarting my career again. I’m so glad to Coker for giving me the opportunity. This is gonna be the biggest show ever and I’m gonna give the best show for my fans.”
Lima was asked if he welcomes the new competition coming to Bellator.
“I love that Scott is bringing all of these guys over. I welcome (Larkin) with pleasure. As soon as he signed I was excited. I’m just loving it. I’m feeling good right now 10 days out from the fight. I’m feeling healthier than ever. I’m ready to throw down — can’t wait for the 24th.”
Larkin couldn’t be more excited and more prepared to face Lima.
“I feel great, man. There’s nothing I look back on this camp that didn’t go well. For me it’s like a complete 180. I can’t ask for a better camp, a better opponent, a better venue, a better promotion. Right now I’m on cloud nine.”
Coker was asked about rumors he’s trying to bring in Chuck Liddell.
“We’re talking to Chuck, but mostly about a brand ambassador type of relationship, that’s an ongoing conversation and we’ll probably pick it up after New York.”
Silva was asked if he and Sonnen will be friends after the fight and what his future plans are.
“We have some people we like, we have some people we don’t like, he’s not that kind of guy I’m gonna invite to come to my house. (If) I have a good victory (against Sonnen) I want to fight Rampage. I want to fight Quinton Jackson.”
Coker was asked how Goldberg and Ranallo will be used going forward.
“For this fight (card) at the Garden everybody will be there, all the play-by-play and color guys, everybody will be there. After this we’ll probably be rotating based on everybody’s availability.”
Silva said there’s no way for Chael Sonnen to prepare for this fight.
“I know what he can do, but he don’t know what I can do. I have a lot of new things, new weapons. Expect a good show because I’m ready to fight. I have some adjustments, I train more safely because I don’t want to be hurt before the fight, I lift more weights to make my body more stronger to hit hard, and Chael’s gonna feel what I have for him. I’m gonna knock him out in the first round.”
Coker was asked about returning to New York City down the road.
“Right now this is the only event this year in New York City, but we plan to come there maybe the first quarter of 2018 but right now it’s not done yet.”
Coker was also asked about Ranallo’s previous obligations to professional wrestling.
“I’m not sure of any contract he had with anybody. I can assure this was all done properly and it was all done in a proper manner.”
Larkin was asked if he felt overshadowed with so much of the focus going to Sonnen & Silva.
“Not at all man. Not at all. I almost like it better because at the end of the day everybody’s going to see what happens. You know they’re going to see just the pure craziness of this fight. It doesn’t have to be all out there like that. Everybody will see come night of the fight which fight on the card really stood out. I’m just patiently waiting.”
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