Bellator NYC "Sonnen vs. Silva" took place last night (Sat., June 24, 2017) at Madison Square Garden in New York, N.Y. The main event finally brought to a head a grudge match years in the making as Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva finally fought — only in Bellator instead of in an Octagon.
Years of animosity led to a memorable first round which saw Sonnen score a takedown eight seconds in and pound away on top for the next two minutes and change, only to let Silva up and get rocked by a punch which saw Silva briefly have his moment to shine on top — briefly. Once Sonnen cleared the cobwebs he got up and took Silva right back down. Silva tried to apply a guillotine with no success as Sonnen popped his head free.
The second round saw a prolonged guillotine attempt from Silva which Sonnen seemed absolutely in no danger of tapping to, eventually prompting John McCarthy to warn both men to get busy. Sonnen finally got his left hand free and fired some punches but they were both stood up. It made no difference as Sonnen immediately doubled him to the ground and kept him there.
The third round looked even more like a bad night for Silva than the first two. There was just no stopping a relentless takedown assault by Sonnen, putting Silva on his back 19 seconds in, and Sonnen stayed busy enough on top that McCarthy was never forced to stand it up — forcing the judges to render a victory of 30-26 and 30-27 X2 for “The American Gangster.”
The always loquacious “Bad Guy” had a lot to say to Jimmy Smith after getting his hand raised.
“All I can think to myself is God damn I hate New York. I made Tito Ortiz tap out in less than a minute, I got Wanderlei Silva out of here in the main event, and when it comes to you Fedor Emelienenko I only need one shot. Now you asked me for an autograph in the back, I patted you on your doughy head and told you I’d think about it, but I’ve made my decision. I’ll give you that signature, but it’s gonna be on the bottom of a contract and you’re going to find out just like Wanderlei and Tito — you never piss off a gangster.”
Second from the top was a fight originally slated for Bellator 172 that got rescheduled to June due to medical ailments. The moment for Fedor Emelianenko and Matt Mitrione to meet at heavyweight had finally arrived.
This fight will not soon be forgotten. Just over a minute in Mitrione and Emelianenko threw simultaneous haymakers and achieved a double knockdown (highlights here). Fortunately for Mitrione he recovered quicker from being dropped, and managed to get some uppercuts on the ground from under Emelianenko’s arm. Once Mitrione got over the top clean, one big right hand slumped “The Last Emperor” and caused Dan Miragliotta to wave it off for a knockout at 1:14 of Round 1.
A pumped up Matt Mitrione had plenty to say afterward in his post fight interview.
“You know I’ll tell you what man, I told my coaches and my trainers all week long, this shit’s gonna be just like when I knocked out Derrick Lewis. I feel it, I knew it was gonna happen, we were gonna explode at the same time and may the best man win. Please, everybody loves Fedor man, please give it up for Fedor please for coming back. That’s incredible. Also, my kids, put your ear muffs on. Hey President Trump, fuck the Golden State Warriors, I’m a real warrior, I’ll come to the White House. And everybody look, Tim Hague just died in the boxing ring. Please, go to GoFundMe. He’s got a nine year old son. If you’ve got 25 cents or a thousand dollars, give this kid a life please.”
Two-time welterweight champion Douglas Lima put his Bellator crown on the line against former Strikeforce and UFC veteran Lorenz Larkin, with a potential of five full rounds of action on tap.
The first round was so much of a feeling out process that Bellator newcomer Mauro Ranallo was forced to acknowledge “mutual respect” on commentary. The second round was where both men finally let their hands go, with Lima knocking down Larkin on a counter left over two minutes in, unable to finish him on the ground with elbows.
Lima continued to pursue a strategy of using leg kicks to slow Larkin down, then punish him with the left hook when Larkin stepped into range, out striking him in the third round and fighting a more competitive fourth round. Larkin fought with a greater sense of urgency in Round 5, pumping the jab and switching his stance to lure Lima into openings, but this title fight went to the judges.
They returned a verdict of 50-48 and 48-47 X2 in favor of Lima, who was very thankful in his post-fight interview with Jimmy Smith.
“Thank you my lord and savior Jesus Christ for this win. I've been through a lot to get here. He messed me up when he switched left handed. It was an honor to share the cage with him. He's just a tough guy. (MacDonald) has been through a lot of tough fights but wait until he faces me - he'll know what a tough fight is.”
Michael Chandler, winner of four straight in Bellator’s lightweight division, also put his title on the line against undefeated challenger Brent Primus.
This was not a long title defense. Primus threw a kick that turned Chandler’s ankle into a quivering wobbly mess, and although Chandler tried to fight through it and even landed a right hand that hurt Primus, referee Todd Anderson stopped the fight and the doctor agreed and said it could not continue. Primus became the new lightweight champion by TKO at 2:27 of Round 1.
Jimmy Smith interviewed an ecstatic Primus after a stunning upset victory.
“Man I can’t even put it into words. I’m so excited. You guys can boo me all you want but, I trained my butt off, I sacrificed everything. It’s the name of the game — anything can happen you know. I’m so blessed. Thank you God, all my family and friends, everybody in Eugene and Portland, Oregon. Everybody in Orange County. Gracie Barra. Performance Martial Arts. Thank you guys. At the press conference I told him I was gonna beat him, and we were gonna have a second... I’m gonna give him an immediate shot. I told him that, and he deserves it. I look up to Chandler, I have for a long time, it was a true honor to get in here and throw leather with that guy. He’s a beast. I’d love to do it again. Let’s do it again man.”
Chandler also had a few words with Jimmy Smith after that fight.
“Cut it off! Cut this thing off! I’ll keep going. I didn’t hear a word he said. I can not wait to get back in this cage. Bellator! New York City! I love you!! Thank you guys for the support. I felt every single scream, when this little thing, was crippling underneath me. Thank you guys, I love you. Brent Primus you better train freaking hard boy cause I’m coming back with a vengeance.”
Chandler might be coming back, but Primus left MSG with the gold around his waist.
Bellator NYC also featured the debut of MMA prospect Aaron Pico at lightweight against a much more experienced opponent at 8-2 in Zach Freeman.
Freeman stunned Pico with a right hand uppercut just ten seconds into the fight, going for a submission immediately when Pico slumped, tapping out his opponent in just 24 seconds.
As the crowd took in that lightning quick finish, Jimmy Smith went to interview the winner.
“You know what? The power of belief, in this life, anything can happen — but you have to believe it. I won the world championships in jiu-jitsu last year with the same move. Even my left hand. My right arm’s the strong one, but you know what? Anyone gives me their neck — night night.”
Jimmy Smith asked Freeman who he wanted next. He had a one word answer: “EVERYBODY.”
With so many fast fights on the main card, Bellator was lucky to have a bonus fight waiting in the wings that didn’t happen earlier in the night. The undefeated (5-0) Neiman Gracie and his opponent Dave Marfone (5-2) stepped in to fill some time.
With a name like Gracie you have to expect some jiu-jitsu expertise and that’s exactly what we got in the second round. Gracie climbed on Marfone’s back after a takedown was blocked. Marfone tried to jump and spike Gracie’s head into the canvas to shake him loose. That failed. The rear-naked choke Gracie applied did not fail. Marfone tapped out at 2:27.
After his big win at MSG Gracie gave a salute to a close personal friend.
"I want to dedicate this victory to my friend Max. Max you are the true warrior. He tapped cancer out now and now he's finished with the chemo. I'm here for this. Thank you to everybody from Renzo Gracie Academy who came out."
A light heavyweight title defense for “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis actually wound up being aired free on Spike TV during the Bellator 180 broadcast. His opponent, Ryan “Darth” Bader, already held one win over him from their respective UFC days.
A restless MSG crowd wanted more action in the first round, but Davis was not able to hit on his takedown attempts, and despite a few good left hands Bader couldn’t land a really solid shot. He arguably edged out the first five minutes on points but only by the slimmest of margins.
The second round was razor thin as well. Davis was still stymied on each of his takedown attempts, but Bader was not able to land effectively now that Davis had felt out the range, while Davis effectively mixed leg kicks and left jabs into his arsenal to slightly out strike his foe.
An increasingly frustrated crowd at the Garden let their displeasure be heard three minutes into the third round, but Davis was arguably outscoring Bader on the feet and even landed a superman punch left hook combo. Bader went for a takedown late that Davis reversed to wind up on top in side control at the bell. In the fourth round both men were warned to be more active.
Bader scored one very brief takedown in the fifth round, but was not able to capitalize on it as Davis popped right back up, and broke free with no damage scored. After 25 minutes the judges had to sort this one out. They returned a verdict of 49-46 Bader X2, 48-47 Davis to make Bader your new Bellator light heavyweight champion. With time running out on Spike TV no post-fight interview took place.
For complete Bellator 180 results and coverage click here.