BY: DAVID GOLDEN
On June 24th at Madison Square Garden, Bellator MMA will make their return to pay-per-view (PPV) with Bellator 180: Sonnen vs Silva. This will be the first time the company has put a product on PPV since Scott Coker took over as president and they are certainly putting their best foot forward. The card boasts three title-fights along with a co-main and main-event that feature some of the most talked about fighters in the history of mixed marital arts. This fight card has the chance to be the best MMA PPV of the summer and it just so happens to have two of Oregon’s finest on the main card. The full card is listed below:
Main Card — PPV
- Light Heavyweight: Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva
- Heavyweight: Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione
- Welterweight Title Fight: Douglas Lima(c) vs. Lorenz Larkin
- Lightweight Title Fight: Michael Chandler (c) vs. Brent Primus
- Lightweight: Aaron Pico vs. Zach Freeman
Preliminary Card — Spike TV
- Light Heavyweight Title Fight: Phil Davis (c) vs. Ryan Bader
- Featherweight: James Gallagher vs. Chinzo Machida
- Welterweight: Neiman Gracie vs. Dave Marfone
- Flyweight: Heather Hardy vs. Alice Yauger
Early On-line Prelims — Bellator.com
- Welterweight: Ryan Couture vs. Haim Gozali
- Lightweight: Jerome Mickle vs. Anthony Giacchina
- Catchweight: John Salgado vs. Hugh McKenna
- Cathweight: Matt Rizzo vs. Sergio da Silva
- Lightweight: Nate Grebb vs. Bradley Desir
***As always, card subject to change
With 14 total fights there really is something for everyone on this card. Let’s break down what to watch for at Bellator 180.
Title Fights, Title Fights, Title Fights
There are three titles on the line at Bellator 180, and all three bring with them interesting matchups and fresh faces. First up, Ryan Bader will make his promotional debut for Bellator when he takes on Bellator light heavyweight champion Phil Davis. These two UFC cast offs are both 8-2 in their last 10 fights with Davis currently riding a 4-fight win streak and Bader having won his last 2. What makes this fight such an intriguing matchup is that these two have fought before and in fact Bader was the last man to hand Davis a loss. The fight was very close and won on a split decision. Davis will certainly be looking to wipe that loss off his record and Bader will be looking to make a huge splash in his promotional debut.
Next up, Michael Chandler will put his lightweight title on the line against Oregon’s own, Brent Primus. This fight is a huge step up for Primus and a major risk for Chandler. With Primus having so few fights, there isn’t nearly the footage available for Chandler to study while Primus has a good-sized library to watch on the champion. This fight pits the one time fresh face, Chandler, against the hot young upstart, Primus. This matchup really mirrors Chandler’s first title shot and could be the beginning of a new regime in the lightweight division. For more on this matchup, please see my recent article on this fight here.
Lastly, Douglas Lima will put his welterweight title up for grabs when he faces the recently signed Lorenz Larkin. Larkin comes to Bellator from the UFC riding a 3-fight win streak and looking more dominant than ever after dropping to welterweight from 185 lbs. His explosive striking and fast pace matches up perfectly with Lima, who has a very similar style. Lima has only lost twice in his last 18 fights and both were in championship bouts. In his last fight, Lima recaptured the welterweight title with an emphatic win over Andrey Koreshkov proving that he will not have problems facing larger welterweights like Larkin. This fight is going to be a barnburner and is my pick for fight of the night. Don’t blink this one might be quick.
Sonnen and Silva Finally Settle the Score
Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva have a beef that spans nearly a half a decade since the moment it was announced that they would coach opposite one another on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil. Some argue that this animosity on the show was fabricated; others say the editing made things look worse than it was in person. No matter how you slice it, there is video of Sonnen and Silva fighting on set during the filming of the show and since that time, people have wanted to see this fight. For Sonnen, this is a must win fight after losing his Bellator debut to Tito Ortiz. For Silva, this marks his return from a “lifetime” ban by the Nevada State Athletic Commission and his first chance at redemption. These two fighters are legends in the sport that hardcore fans adore. This fight is a must watch for the old school MMA fans of the world.