Bellator made the trip to New York City for the first time Saturday night and presented only the second pay-per-view in the promotion’s history. The show brought a little bit of everything with three championship fights in the middle of the card, along with some emerging prospects and, in the top two fights, some returning legends.
The main event featured the blowoff to a long-simmering feud between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva that dates back to their time coaching “The Ultimate Fighter” in Brazil and even earlier when Sonnen was feuding with Anderson Silva.
The fight saw Sonnen effectively neutralize The Axe Murderer’s attack with consistent takedowns and ground and pound. Sonnen cruised to a unanimous decision victory, not the kind of war one would expect from such a heated feud, but Sonnen pulled off the win and lives to fight another day.
The co-main event featured a rescheduled bout between former heavyweight king Fedor Emelianenko and former UFC vet Matt Mitrione. The two were scheduled to clash earlier this year but the bout was canceled at the last minute when Mitrione suffered from kidney stones.
The battle was short but sweet and almost saw a one-of-a-kind finish when both men simultaneously knocked each other down with punches early in the fight. Mitrione was first to recover, though, and scrambled to the still prone Emelianenko to secure the first round TKO.
The championship fights took place early in the card to make room for the bigger names on top. In the featured bout of the Spike TV portion of the card. Ryan Bader and Phil Davis squared off for the second time. The result this time very much mirrored their first meeting in UFC back in 2015. Bader took a split decision in a boring fight, only this time he takes Bellator’s light heavyweight championship belt with him.
Bellator staple Michael Chandler took on Brent Primus in a lightweight championship bout on the main card that MMATorch’s Cole Henry called “the strangest fight I have ever seen.” Chandler appeared to injure his ankle early in the fight but continued to fight on. He dropped Primus with a punch but Chandler was unable to support his own weight. The referee intervened to have the doctor examine Chandler’s ankle, and the fight was stopped, awarding Primus the lightweight championship in one of the most unlikely finishing sequences in MMA.
Bellator Welterweight Champ Douglas Lima successfully defended his title against newcomer Lorenz Larkin in the pay-per-view opener.
Bellator’s MMA prospects had some mixed results. The highly-touted Aaron Pico came nowhere close to living up to the hype in his MMA debut. The amateur wrestling standout who was signed by Bellator back in 2014 submitted to Zach Freeman in 24 seconds after eating a stiff uppercut and getting locked up in a guillotine choke.
Twenty-year old James Gallagher fared better on the undercard, securing a first round submission over Chinzo Machida while former WBC boxing champion Heather Hardy earned a third-round TKO over Alice Yauger in what was her MMA debut.
Hiscoe’s Analysis: I’m not sure that it will end up being a business success, but you have to at least commend Bellator for going out there and trying something different. They chose to go with the aging but established stars on top while mixing the younger and championship level talent throughout the card. It’s a nice break from UFC’s typically predictable style of filling out cards from top to bottom. I think they were over-ambitious in booking Madison Square Garden, but if enough of the public bought into the Silva-Sonnen feud or wanted to see Fedor on U.S. pay-per-view, then they could recover the costs of running in New York City. The buzz in the days leading up to the fight didn’t feel to be at the level necessary to make this a success, but we’ll find out in a few weeks time as numbers start to come out.
SUNDAY NOTEBOOK ITEMS…
-Don’t forget there is a UFC Fight Night tonight from Oklahoma City with a main card start time of 9 p.m. ET. We’ll have full coverage here at MMATorch.com.
-Johny Hendricks missed weight once again, this time at middleweight, coming in at 188 lbs for his fight against Tim Boetsch. The fight is still on and Hendricks will be forced to give up 20 percent of his purse. Jared Gordon also came in heavy for his featherweight bout scheduled for the Fight Pass prelims. The rest of the weigh-ins went as follows:
Main Event – Five round bout
Michael Chiesa (155) vs Kevin Lee (156)
FS1 Main Card – 9 pm ET/6 pm PT
Tim Boetsch (186) vs Johny Hendricks (188)*
Felice Herrig (115) vs Justine Kish (116)
Joachim Christensen (206) vs Dominick Reyes (205)
Tim Means (171) vs Alex Garcia(171)
BJ Penn (146) vs Dennis Siver (146)
FS2 Prelims – 7 pm ET/4 pm PT
Clay Guida (156) vs Erik Koch (155)
Vitor Miranda (186) vs Marvin Vettori (185)
Carla Esparza (116) vs Maryna Moroz (115)
Devin Powell (155) vs Darrell Horcher (155)
UFC FIGHT PASS Prelims – 5:30 pm ET/2:30 pm PT
Jared Gordon (149) vs Michel Quinones (145)
Tony Martin (156) vs Johnny Case (156)
Joshua Stansbury (206) vs Jeremy Kimball (204)
-Fedor Emelianenko told media at the post-fight press conference that he plans to continue fighting despite the first round loss last night. He expressed interest in a rematch with Matt Mitrione and was dismissive of the prospect of a fight with Chael Sonnen, who called him out after his win last night, citing the weight difference between the two men.
-Ryan Bader talked of a potential rematch with Tito Ortiz, who holds a 2011 submission win over Bader.
Press Conference Video: HERE
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