Bellator 180 NYC – Breakdown And Predictions

Date: Saturday 24th June, 2017

Location: New York, US 

Venue: Madison Square Garden

Bellator are marking their first event in New York with their most stacked card ever. Several of their biggest stars will feature, whilst there will be three title fights and 15 debutants on show. They are really making a statement, emulating the UFC’s efforts to put on a star-studded show in celebration of the legalisation of MMA in New York. So let’s break down the main events – Chael Sonnen vs Wanderlei Silva and Fedor Emelianenko vs Matt Mitrione – along with the three title fights.

Chael Sonnen vs Wanderlei Silva

This is a grudge match that has been long overdue. Their beef dates back years when both were top middleweight contenders in the UFC, and emotions truly boiled over as coaches during the Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3 in 2014. Constant bickering and insults not helped by a distinct language barrier even led to them having a scrap during filming.

Tensions boiling over – Silva (left) Sonnen (right)

Tensions boiling over – Silva (left) Sonnen (right)

The two have shared constant jibes since, and now get to thrash out their differences under the Bellator banner. However, they will have to scrap off the ring rust as Sonnen has only fought once since 2013, where he looked extremely rusty against Tito Ortiz and lost the fight via submission. Silva on the other hand has not fought at all since 2013 due to a suspension for failing to cooperate in a drugs test.

The two finally meet, and both have made it abundantly clear that they cannot wait to get their hands on one another. For his Bellator debut, fans will be expecting to see the Silva of old, slightly older and slower but with the same aggressive onslaught of powerful strikes aimed directly at the dome. Sonnen will halt his charismatic and hilarious promotion and step into the cage tremendously focused, looking to counter Silva’s rush attacks with wrestling, hoping to keep the Brazilian on the mat to inflict his own damage.

A grudge match of the highest order, fitting for their biggest event in history – Bellator NYC. See below for a statistical breakdown:

Sonnen v Silva

Fedor Emelianenko vs Matt Mitrione

This is a rescheduled bout after Matt Mitrione had to pull out at the last minute from their date at Bellator 172. Mitrione was hospitalised with kidney stones and is grateful to welcome one of the most legendary fighters of all time for his Bellator debut.

Fedor Emelianenko is in the twilight of his career at the ripe old age of 40, yet still causes a frenzy of excitement and anticipation when slated for a fight. Former UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione is licking his lips at the prospect of fighting this legend, which is an opportunity he would have never been granted in the UFC. Not only is this the biggest fight of his career, but he will be confident that this will also be the biggest win of his career. Fedor will not have fought many heavyweights as quick and as mobile as Mitrione, and although he has won his last five fights, the likes of Fabricio Werdum, Antonio Silva and Dan Henderson have proven he is not invincible and can be knocked out. Mitrione will be hunting this finish but even at the age of 40, The Last Emperor cannot be slept on.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Fedor v Mirtrione

Michael Chandler vs Brent Primus

Michael Chandler is the #7 ranked lightweight in the world according to Fight Matrix, and has a tight grip on the Bellator belt after losing it originally against former UFC lightweight champion Eddie Alvarez, and then losing two fights against Will Brooks for the title. These are the only three losses of his career and now that Alvarez and Brooks are on the UFC roster, Chandler has got back to his old winning ways and welcomes the undefeated Brent Primus for a shot at his gold.

Although Primus has only had seven fights, it would be naive to count this man out as he is at the exact same stage Chandler was at when he captured the belt for the first time against the heavily experienced Alvarez in their first fight. Primus is also a very big lightweight and will have the reach and weight advantage by the time they step inside the cage. If he can weather the early storm of Chandler, this could be a very close and gritty contest.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Chandler v Primus

Douglas Lima vs Lorenz Larkin

Douglas Lima is another veteran who has grown with the rise of Bellator, and is a massively underrated welterweight who has amassed a record of 10-2 under the promotion. The first of these losses was against the undefeated Ben Askren and the second was against Andrey Koreshkov - which he avenged in his most recent fight - so now he is the man every welterweight wants a piece of. The queue of exceptional fighters includes new recruit Rory MacDonald, Paul Daley and Michael Page but at the front of the queue is Lorenz Larkin.  

With UFC experience at middleweight and starting his career as a light heavyweight, Larkin has now become an absolute beast at welterweight. He had to cut a lot of weight but he has reaped the rewards with two wins against two top ranked UFC welterweights - Neil Magny and Jorge Masvidal – in his last outings. On course for a UFC title shot, Larkin pulled a u-turn in signing for Bellator, a huge coup for the CEO Scott Coker, and one that went under the radar but is up there with the best acquisitions the promotion have made so far.

Two vicious strikers will go toe-to-toe in this title fight, which will surely be a ‘fight of the night’ contender. Two huge opportunities for these men, Larkin for his first shot at gold in a major promotion and Lima to establish himself as one of the very best welterweights in the world.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Lima v Larkin

Phil Davis vs Ryan Bader

Two more of Bellator’s prized possessions and recruits from the UFC take the stage for the first title fight of the evening in the form of current light heavyweight champion Phil Davis and fellow countryman Ryan Bader. These supreme athletes were both ranked in the top ten of the UFC’s light heavyweight division but were not the most appreciated by the UFC. Their fighting styles have not attracted many fans as they rely on their strong wrestling bases to take and keep their opponents down in order to grind out victories – the evidence of which lies in the fact that over half of their (combined) fights have ended in decisions.

Nevertheless, two men with similar talents promises to be a fascinating contest and these two fighters are two of the best at what they do. What makes this even more fascinating is the fact they have already fought before in the UFC, in which Bader scraped a close decision win. So Davis is out for revenge against the last man to beat him and Bader is looking to rock the light heavyweight division on his debut.

See below for a statistical breakdown:

Davis v Bader