The action will unfold later this evening (Sat., June 24, 2017) at Bellator NYC live on pay-per-view (PPV) from inside Madison Square Garden in New York City, as Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen finally ditch the chit chat and duke it out in the middle of a cage. The two light heavyweights have been poking and prodding for years and will headline the biggest card in Bellator history (presumably). The co-main event will feature the promotional debut of the great Fedor Emelianenko, who makes his journey to the Bellator canvas against former UFC heavyweight striker Matt Mitrione.
Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva have been barking at one another since 2013. Heck, they even tangled during coaching stints on The Ultimate Fighter. Their budding rivalry over the years is more than certified to lead Bellator’s PPV invasion this weekend. Hardcore fights fans still wish Sonnen and Silva would have squared off back in their primes, but a matchup in 2017 is good enough.
It seems only fitting that Fedor Emelianenko’s initially planned debut went awry earlier this year when Mitrione’s kidney stones spoiled the fun. Emelianenko is a tremendous name in the sport and deserves to make his promotional arrival on a grand stage like Bellator NYC. Mitrione is one tough cookie, but “The Last Emperor” is hungry and eager to put his fists back to good use.
This card is pretty stacked from top bottom. Outside of the online preliminary bouts, Bellator NYC/180 tickles the combat fancy in more than one spot. The PPV main card speaks for itself, but the Spike TV main card, which begins at 8:00 p.m. ET, will feature a light heavyweight title fight between current Bellator king Phil Davis and newly acquired UFC veteran Ryan Bader, who defeated “Mr. Wonderful” inside of the Octagon via decision in 2015. Add in a nice little featherweight matchup between Irish showman James Gallagher and Chinzo Machida, and you have yourself multiple reasons to tune into the action.
Original Card vs. Actual Card:
Ryan Bader was originally scheduled to fight Muhammed Lawal at Bellator 180 in his promotional debut, but “King Mo” pulled out of the bout and “Darth” was gifted a title shot against Phil Davis.
A bout between Keri Anne Melendez (wife of Gilbert Melendez) and Sadee Monseratte Williams was also scheduled to take place, but Melendez was forced to withdraw from the fight due to injury.
Bellator 180 will mark the first bout of Bader’s new multi-fight contract with the promotion. Bader has been perennially forced to stay afloat the UFC’s light heavyweight division, which includes guys like Jon Jones, Daniel Cormier, and Alexander Gustafsson, but now “Darth” only has to contend with one man. That man, who comes from the same UFC cloth, is Bellator’s current 205-pound champ Phil Davis. Bader will have to come in hot and prove he made a good choice to leave UFC behind, which is why his debut this weekend will be one to watch.
Despite being 35 years old, professional boxer Heather Hardy has a lot of potential in her transition into mixed martial arts (MMA). Hardy sports a professional boxing record of 20-1, 1 NC and has a background in kickboxing. She’s a super talented striker who will try to utilize her standup against veteran Alice Yauger in order to make a splash in Bellator’s women’s flyweight division.
How The “Prelims” Look:
The “Prelims” actually shape up to be a pretty good watch. The aforementioned Phil Davis vs. Ryan Bader light heavyweight title fight leads the way, while Gallagher takes his chances against Lyoto Machida’s thinner brother. On top of that, Neiman Gracie puts his undefeated MMA record on the line in his fourth Bellator appearance and Hardy shifts from the ring to the cage in her anticipated debut.
While those bouts are technically part of Bellator 180’s main card on Spike TV, they can be considered your preliminary action for the night before Bellator’s PPV event unfolds at 10 p.m. ET.
Who Needs A Win Badly:
When it comes to Chael Sonnen, winning sometimes doesn’t matter. Sonnen is an entertainer first, a guy who talks the talk and believes that he can walk the walk against any opponent. His pre-fight antics are legendary and part of the reason why Sonnen, win or lose, remains a hot ticket in this sport.
That said, “The American Gangster” needs to start winning to further pad his comfy chair atop the Bellator throne. He didn’t look all that good in his January clash with former UFC champion Tito Ortiz and hasn’t tasted victory since choking out Mauricio Rua in 2013.
Interest Level: 10/10
There is little that Bellator NYC/180 doesn’t offer. With three title fights on the docket (Michael Chandler vs. Brent Primus, Douglas Lima vs. Lorenz Larkin, Phil Davis vs. Ryan Bader), the entire card could spit fire. Bellator has always been able to produce worthy television cards, but tonight’s PPV event shaped out better than expected. The price of admission is more than worth it, especially when you get to see Fedor Emelianenko and Wanderlei Silva compete on the same card.
Check out the complete Bellator NYC/180 fight card below:
Bellator NYC Main Card (PPV - Start time 10:00 p.m. ET):
Light heavyweight: Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva
Heavyweight: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione
Lightweight: Michael Chandler (c) vs. Brent Primus
Welterweight: Douglas Lima (c) vs. Lorenz Larkin
Lightweight: Aaron Pico vs. Zach Freeman
Bellator 180 Main Card (Spike TV - Start time 8:00 p.m. ET)
Light Heavyweight: Phil Davis (c) vs. Ryan Bader
Featherweight: James Gallagher vs. Chinzo Machida
Welterweight: Neiman Gracie vs. Dave Marfone
Women's Flyweight: Heather Hardy vs. Alice Yauger
Bellator 180 “Prelims” (Bellator.com - Start time 6:00 p.m. ET)
Welterweight: Ryan Couture vs. Haim Gozali
Lightweight: Jerome Mickle vs. Anthony Giacchina
Catchweight (168 lbs): John Salgado vs. Hugh McKenna
Catchweight (130 lbs): Matt Rizzo vs. Sergio da Silva
Lightweight: Bradley Desir vs. Nate Grebb
Stick with Mania as we bring you live Bellator 180 blow-by-blow coverage.