June 23, 2017

Bellator 180: On Paper, Bellator NYC Is Worthy of A PPV Buy

By Adam Martin

Bellator MMA holds the biggest event of its promotional existence this weekend with Bellator NYC, which takes place Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in NYC. The card is stacked with huge names and multiple title fights, and Bellator president Scott Coker is not wrong when he says this is one of the best pay-per-views of the year -- UFC included.

It's weird seeing Bellator on PPV, because the company has only tried it once and it was a complete failure (Bellator 120), but this second PPV looks a lot better on paper, and fans should get their bang for their buck when it's all said and done. As far as I'm concerned, the lineup Bellator has put together for this card rivals any pay-per-view the UFC has put on this year, with the only exception being UFC 211. At least on paper, as you never know how the fights will go.

Although I don't agree with Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva being the main event, it's obviously a big fight between two long-time veterans with big names and big fanbases. Sonnen has looked pretty awful in Bellator so far, with a submission loss to Tito Ortiz sticking out like a sore thumb, but he's still one of the most popular fighters in MMA, and his ability to talk is second only to Conor McGregor. And Silva hasn't fought in four years since his classic knockout over Brian Stann. Yes, both men are 40 years old now, but both men are rarely in boring fights. Again, it's not the fight I would have booked for the main event considering the quality of the undercard, but I still think it's a solid fight.

The co-main event sees another legend in Fedor Emelianenko make his long-awaited Bellator debut against Matt Mitrione. These two were scheduled to meet a few months ago until Mitrione pulled out on the day of the fight with kidney stones. It's great that Bellator was able to get this fight booked once again, because it's a solid fight. Like Sonnen and Silva, when has Emelianenko or Mitrione been in a boring fight? Both men are extremely exciting fighters, and this fight should be a lot of fun for however long it lasts. My only complaint is that this should have been a five-round fight for the vacant Bellator heavyweight championship, and it should have been the main event, but either way, it's an awesome fight, and potentially the last time we see Emelianenko fight.

The two title fights on the card are both fantastic. Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler fights the undefeated Brent Primus for the belt, and Bellator welterweight champion Douglas Lima fights former UFC fighter Lorenz Larkin, who is making his Bellator debut. Although Chandler is a big favorite to beat Primus, that fight should be interesting regardless of what the odds say, and of course Larkin and Lima are going to put on a show like they always do. It's fair to criticize Bellator and say these two title fights should have been higher up the card, but then again, the fighters in the main and co-main events have bigger names, so it makes sense. Regardless, you can't complain about two title fights.

And finally, the opening main card PPV bout sees top prospect Aaron Pico fight journeyman Zach Freeman. Yes, this is a squash match according to most observers, as Pico has incredible wrestling ability and Freeman isn't very good, but then again Pico is still just a kid at age 20 and he needs MMA experience. This fight serves as both Pico's introduction to MMA and the fans' introduction to Pico, and is a classic Scott Coker prospect vs. journeyman matchup.

Those five fights make up the scheduled pay-per-view portion of Bellator NYC, with a Spike TV card called Bellator 180 taking place earlier. Although these fights aren't on the PPV, the light heavyweight title bout between champion Phil Davis and Bellator newcomer Ryan Bader is a really big fight. Plus, top prospect James Gallagher fights Chinzo Machida. These are some quality fights, and if they're good will likely encourage some fans to buy the PPV portion of the card.

This Bellator NYC card is a great one for hardcore fans, featuring some of the sport's greatest legends in Silva, Sonnen and Emelianenko, as well as some of the top current fighters in the world in Chandler, Lima and Larkin. Personally, I will be watching this card, as I believe it's one of the strongest PPV offerings of the year regardless of promotion. You never know how the card will play out, but at least on paper, this is an awesome MMA card and a must-watch for any fan. Kudos to Bellator for putting together such a great card, and now it's up to the fighters to perform.


Bellator (180) NYC: Sonnen vs. Silva takes place June 24, 2017 at Madison Square Garden in New York, New York.

Click the stars to rate how good you think Bellator 180 will be.
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