Bellator is getting back into the pay-per-view game and they’re bringing out their big guns! and some older weaponry that’s pretty close to obsolete.
When you’re doing a big event in Madison Square Garden (Saturday, June 24, 2017) and you’re regarded as the red-headed stepchild to the UFC, you’re going to have a lot to live up to. So, not only is Bellator doing a pay-per-view spectacular, they are also throwing in another event that will air for free on Spike TV the same night.
The PPV portion of the evening will be Bellator NYC: Sonnen vs. Silva which features a main event between former UFC badass Chael Sonnen vs. “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva. These two have a rich history of trash talking and getting into fights on reality shows.
Also on the PPV portion of the card is a co-main event that features another blast from the past; the great Fedor Emelianenko returns to US soil to face former UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione.
Lightweight champion Michael Chandler (16-3) also defends his title against Brent Primus (7-0), while Douglas Lima (28-6) defends his welterweight belt against Lorenz Larkin (18-5).
During the free “Bellator 180” portion of the night (which will air on Spike), people will be able to watch two former UFC light heavyweights throw down as Phil Davis (17-3) defends his title against Ryan Bader (22-5).
Everyone likes free, so I will give you my free picks for this upcoming event because, just like Chael Sonnen said, “You’re looking at the reflection of perfection.” Here’s who I’m taking.
BELLATOR 180 ODDS AND PREDICTIONS
Light Heavyweight Championship: Phil Davis (c) (+100) vs. Ryan Bader (-110)
These two former UFC athletes fought each other back at UFC on FOX 14, where Bader was able to squeak out a split decision win. Now with a title on the line, they meet in a rematch under a new promotional banner.
Bader (22-5) and Davis (17-3) are very evenly matched so you can probably expect the same competitive fight as before. Both men possess solid standup but they mostly rely on their world-class wrestling.
Since the loss to Bader in the UFC, “Mr. Wonderful” has won four straight. Bader is riding a two-fight win streak but hasn’t competed since November of last year.
In what is a pick’em fight, I am giving the slight edge to Bader, who’s striking is a bit more polished. He should be able to out-point Davis in another split decision win.
Pick: Ryan Bader (-110)
BELLATOR NYC ODDS AND PREDICTIONS
Chael Sonnen (-170) vs. Wanderlei Silva (+140)
This grudge match was originally supposed to happen in the UFC but now it’s finally taking place in a Bellator cage many years later.
Both these fighters are well past their prime, especially Chael Sonnen (28-15) who looked terrible when he was submitted by Tito Ortiz back in January. He is on a 1-4 skid stretching back to 2012 and has done more talking than fighting.
Meanwhile, Wanderlei Silva’s (35-12-1) career has been sitting in purgatory since being suspended for three years after evading a May 2014 drug test. When the UFC finally released the legendary fighter, there were talks Wandy wanted to fight Fedor Emelianenko, but Bellator felt the rivalry between the “Axe Murderer” and “The American Gangster” was too good to pass up.
Back in the day, Silva was feared and one of the most dominant fighters in MMA history. Now, he’s nearing 41 years old and has been on the shelf for a long time. Obviously, there will be some ring rust and Silva’s striking won’t be as fast and dangerous as it used to be.
It’s not like Sonnen has been setting the world on fire, either. Besides the recent fight with Ortiz, Sonnen has spent his time being suspended for PEDs and giving his expert analysis on ESPN.
This time around it’s put your money where your mouth is, and I fully expect Sonnen to be in better shape and hopefully motivated to beat his long-time rival.
Ultimately, I see Sonnen using his wrestling to stay away from Wanderlei’s punches and kicks. That would be the smart thing to do. But this is Chael Sonnen so smart game planning might not be in the cards.
Still, the long layoff will hurt Wanderlei and I see Sonnen winning via decision.
Pick: Chael Sonnen (-170)
Fedor Emelianenko (+100) vs. Matt Mitrione (-114)
The last time we saw “The Last Emperor” on American soil was when he was lying on the mat after getting knocked unconscious by Dan Henderson in July of 2011.
After a few wins over some washed up fighters in Russia, the 40-year-old was set to sail into retirement. But God has called Fedor back to the cage and now he is set to take on former UFC heavyweight Matt “Meathead” Mitrione.
This fight was originally going to take place in San Jose back in February but, hours before the bout, Mitrione had to pull out due to kidney stones. Now they are set to meet in the legendary Madison Square Garden and many can’t wait to see one of the sport’s greatest of all time take on journeyman Mitrione.
The only problem is that Fedor is a shell of his former self. Age happens and, in this sport, it can happen quickly. Although Mitrione might not be considered one of the most talented heavyweights, he has enough punching power to end a fight in the blink of an eye.
Back in the day, Emelianenko was a relatively small heavyweight who took down bigger guys with great technique. However, the sport has clearly passed him by and if he goes into this fight to brawl like he has in more recent outings, Mitrione will make short work of the Russian.
I see Fedor trying to catch Mitrione early with a fast flurry. If “Meathead” can stay out of danger, he should be able to pick his shots and knock Fedor out.
Pick: Matt Mitrione (-114)