Bellator 222: “Machida vs. Sonnen” takes place at Madison Square Garden (MSG) in New York, N.Y., on June 14, 2019, streaming exclusively on DAZN. The main event will see mixed martial arts (MMA) legends collide at Light Heavyweight as “The American Gangster” Chael Sonnen (31-16-1) and Lyoto “The Dragon” Machida (25-8) square off for three rounds.
To promote its return to MSG, Bellator MMA has scheduled a slew of fighters for a press conference in New York City that will be streamed live via the player above. The aforementioned Sonnen and Machida will be in attendance, as well as Dillon Danis, Max Humphrey, Neiman Gracie, Heather Hardy, Viacom CFO Wade Davis, DAZN CVO Juan Delgado, and Bellator President Scott Coker.
If there are any notable quotables from the above participants, we’ll include those selected comments for you below as updates while the press conference takes place.
Scott Coker’s opening remarks: “We look forward to putting an amazing fight on June 14th in our return to MSG. It’s been a good year for Bellator. We crowned a new Heavyweight champion in January, Ryan Bader, he’s now a two division champion. Look forward to him fighting a couple of times in 2019. The Welterweight Grand Prix will hopefully conclude in September. Later this year we will kick off the Featherweight tournament, sometime in the fall or October, a 16 man tournament fans will really appreciate. We said look we have too many great fighters, we need to increase it, and all of the fighters will have a single elimination fight on the first night, and then the second round will begin in December. I feel like the European series is doing very well. The next event is in Birmingham on May 4th. We go back to Madison Square Garden on June 14th. This event will be exclusively on DAZN at 10 PM, with prelims at a 7 PM start time. At this time let’s just bring out the fighters.”
Coker on Chael Sonnen main eventing: “Chael is an icon in this sport. He always brings it. Whether it’s win lose or draw he always brings it and he always has a good game. Whether it’s in New York or California wherever he fights it’s always a good match. Sonnen, Machida, this is why we signed them.”
Chael Sonnen on his return to MSG: “I’m trying to reflect on that question. I just want to compete. To be in the main event is very flattering. I wouldn’t manufacture anything with Machida, he’s a very respectful gentleman. I always have my eye on Machida. He came over here at 185 lbs. so I didn’t know this was going to happen. The venue isn’t as important to me. Being able to compete is something special.”
Neiman Gracie on his mindset before Rory MacDonald vs. Jon Fitch: “If they train smart they will come in 100%. I want them to come in 100%. I don’t want any excuses. Whoever wins I will be ready for them.”
Scott Coker on MacDonald vs. Fitch: “In all fairness we’ve been through this before. When I was working at K1 you’d have a survivor role. If a fighter got hurt the survivor would advance. If a fighter can’t continue we’ll make the best decision possible. Talking to both athletes they wanted a quick turnaround.”
Lyoto Machida: “Definitely this fight I want because this fight was supposed to happen back in the days, me and Chael, but it didn’t happen back in the days. As soon as Bellator offer me this name, I said I’m ready and down to fight Chael for sure. He’s a tough opponent. He’s a legend in this sport as well. I have a lot of respect for him but I know we’ll have a good fight. The best respect I can give to him is bring my best and get this victory.”
Chael Sonnen on Machida’s elusiveness: “I’ve seen all of his fights. He’s like the wrestler killer, to Munoz to Bader to Rashad. I stayed up until 3 in the morning watching him last night. I can’t figure out why nobody can close the distance and get their hands on him. Nobody can. I watched Jon Jones fail for nine minutes at it. I’m saying the things that are going to motivate me, but that’s also the intrigue. I have nobody in the training room like Machida. It’s a very different style.”
Scott Coker: “We would love to come once a year or every 18 months, but it’s about putting the big fights together. We want to make sure we bring a quality event to New York City. We have a couple of other fights we’re going to announce sometime next week that will be amazing match-ups. We look forward to going back to NYC.”
Chael Sonnen on hearing from Henderson or Couture: “No. Dan Henderson is a tough one to talk to. No! He barely remembers he fought Machida. I know as far as closing the distance it was a bigger problem for Randy. I’ll definitely talk to them but I’ve been watching Machida for years. You get one crack at him and it’s live on TV with your shirts off.”
Lyoto Machida on their fight: “So I’m so excited for this fight, and Chael is so smart, so he gives me a lot of compliments you know? He makes me full of myself and I relax too much and he can take advantage of everything. I don’t need to know anything, he knows how to promote the fight. I’ll just be here. This guy is amazing.”
Dillon Danis: “Everybody likes to hate on me. It’s not mentally easy to do the things I do. It’s not easy but I deserve to be here.”
Machida on staying motivated: “When I moved to Bellator everybody thinks it’s different now like I just started my career so I have new motivation, different opponents, different approach. I try to fit my motivation through that. I train every day. I want to be one of the best in the sport. To be like that I have to stay motivated and be ready for any challenge in my career.”
Sonnen on staying motivated: “I love this sport. It’s the only game I know how to play. I’m sitting two doors down from a guy who almost ruined the entire grand prix in Neiman Gracie. We were calling Ed Ruth the favorite but Neiman out conditioned him. He simply wanted it more and now he’s two fights away from a million dollars. He’s something really special. That also motivates me. I’m learning new stuff all the time. Styles are changing and evolving. Wrestling was once enough. Those days are 20 years ago. I just got my black belt in jiu-jitsu. My point is there are always new things to learn. If you don’t you get a guy you didn’t know two years ago who’s going to fight for a world championship.”
Heather Hardy on her return to MSG: “There’s really nothing like fighting in the Garden. It’s really special. When I heard Bellator was coming back I had to get on the card. It means everything to me to put on in front of my city and get back to the sport that I love.”
Max Humphrey: “Its all surreal. I’m not too great at the speaking parts, I’m just here to fight. I’ve fought in barns with a hay filled ring. To be here finally is kind of crazy.”
Lyoto Machida on moving up to 205: “Since the beginning when I signed with Bellator that I would like to fight in 205 and 185. I like to be busy. In order to stay busy I have to fight in different categories sometimes. Now it’s time to figure out again how the things are going in 205.”
Lyoto Machida on title opportunities: “I would like to have the chance in both divisions. 185 is my division but 205 as well. I already fought Ryan Bader and Gegard Mousasi and won so for me it’s only a matter of time.”
Chael Sonnen on going back to 205: “I can make 205 in about 48 hours. I like the discipline of it. If you don’t have to get that extra run in you don’t. If you don’t have to eat better you don’t. This sport is changing really rapidly. Scott Coker was the first to offer parity in the sport and now you’re starting to see that through the entire industry, and boxing’s been doing that forever. It does give us major opportunity.”
Dillon Danis on not getting heat with Bellator opponents: “There is no one really popular enough in my division for me to go at. It’s a waste of time when someone’s down here and you’re up here. That’s all. It just happens. I don’t really do it by design. If the money’s right we can do it all in one night.”
Heather Hardy on returning after a year off: “I never stopped kickboxing. I always do that for fun. My main focus until my world title fight was boxing. Come December there was talk of me fighting February in Mohegan Sun. I started training MMA as early as December. I’ve been back in the flow of doing all the things.”
Scott Coker on the stakes of the main event: “Obviously when I think of Machida or Chael I think about the big fighters we have at 185 or 205. There’s some big fights out there for them and we’ll do it all. Whether it’s Bader or Gegard we’ll mix it up and do it for the fans.”
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