Bellator is back in the pay-per-view spotlight as Bellator NYC takes place Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The Bellator NYC fight card’s main event features former three-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen against former Pride champion Wanderlei Silva.
Sonnen and Silva have a long standing rivalry going back to their days in the UFC when they were coaches on “The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3.” Set to fight at UFC 175 back in July 2013, Sonnen and Silva were suspended for drug test violations but under different circumstances. The Nevada Athletic Commission handed Sonnen a two-year suspension for the banned drugs anastrozole and clomiphene. Sonnen (28-15-1) retired and signed with Bellator in the fall. He made his debut in January, losing by first-round submission to Tito Ortiz.
Meanwhile, Silva (35-12-1) had been given a lifetime ban by the NAC for skipping a random drug test. A Nevada judge reversed the ruling and ordered a re-sentencing that resulted in a three-year ban for Silva. “The Axe Murderer” also “retired” before getting his release from the UFC and signed with Bellator.
legend Fedor Emelianenko when he goes up against Matt Mitrione.
Emelianenko and Mitrione were set to battle at Bellator 172 in February. The morning of the event, Mitrione was hospitalized because of kidney stones and the fight was called off. Mitrione ended having 24 stones removed.
Emelianenko (36-4, 1 NC), “The Last Emperor,” is 2-0 since coming out of retirement at the end of 2015. Mitrione (11-5) is 2-0 since coming over from the UFC in 2016.
The Bellator NYC fight card also features a welterweight title fight between champion Douglas Lima and Lorenz Larkin; a lightweight title bout with Michael Chandler defending against Brent Primus; and the highly anticipated MMA debut of decorated wrestler Aaron Pico as he faces Zach Freeman.
The undercard, which will air on Spike TV as “Bellator 180,” will feature a light heavyweight title fight between Phil Davis and Bellator newcomer Ryan Bader, a former UFC contender.
Here is our live coverage of Bellator NYC: Sonnen vs. Silva:
10:52: Lima retains the welterweight title over Larkin by unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47, 48-47). First, I wonder what fight judge Chris Lee watched scoring the fight 50-45. Maybe he went and grabbed a pop and some popcorn. Pretty absurd. Agree with Rory MacDonald who is at the desk with Mike Goldberg and Josh Thomson saying the fight was underwhelming. It looked more like a sparring session instead of a championship fight. MacDonald and Lima will fight later this year.
10:49: Round 5 to Larkin (10-9, 48-47 Lima). The same as the fourth round. Pretty baffling Lima knowing the fight could be on the line and feel like he already had done enough to win the fight. Where was this Larkin the first three rounds of the fight? If Larkin loses the fight, he will know why.
10:42: Round 4 to Larkin (10-9, 39-37 Lima). This was Larkin’s best round of the fight. The 23-fight veteran showed more activity while it Lima took the round off for one reason or another which you should never do in a championship. Larkin needs a finish to be able to wrest the belt from the Brazilian.
10:38: Round 3 to Lima (10-9, 30-27). Lima is making this look easy. He decides when to strike and keeps Larkin on his heels and very tentative. Larkin needs to pick up the pace and do it quickly as he is down by a mile.
10:29: Round 2 to Lima (10-9, 20-18). This was the fight fans are expecting. A much more competitive round. Larkin took control of the early portion of the round with his striking but Lima turned it around in a blink of an eye with a thunderous left hook to drop Larkin. Lima tried to finish it off connecting on ground and pounf punches but Larkin was able to get back to his feet. Lima appears to be getting tired and Larkin needs to take advantage of it.
10:23: Round 1 to Lima (10-9). A round where Larkin and Lima were feeling each other out. Larkin appeared to be tentative to throw. Lima did the same but was able to connect on some vicious leg kicks to seal the round.
10:14: Kicking off Bellator NYC, for the welterweight title, Douglas Lima defends his belt against Lorenz Larkin. Lima (28-6) became a two-time champion when defeated Andrey Koreshkov back in November. Larkin (18-5) is makiing his promotional debut after a 5-5 stint in the UFC but went 4-1 when he dropped down to 170 pounds. This has been deemed to be by many fight experts as the presumed fight of the night. Both are heavy handed strikers and promises to deliver fireworks.
Bader Captures Gold
9:59: Bader defeats Davis by split decision (47-48, 49-46, 48-47) to capture the light heavyweight title. It was carbon copy of the first fight two-and-half years ago. Neither guy did too much damage but Bader landed the more significant damage causing swelling under Davis’ right eye and bloodied the left one as well. Davis didn’t go for any his bread and butter, the takedown. His standup isn’t at an elite level to where it would make Bader worry and it cost him his world title.
9:55: Round 5 to Bader (10-9, 48-47 Bader). Bader continued what he did in the fourth round and busted up Davis some more. Not only did he do more damage to Davis’ left eye, he also created a good size mouse under the right eye. Bader notched a takedown but Davis got right up. Now, we go to the judges decision.
9:50: Round 4 to Bader (10-9, 38-38). Bader keeps going to back he’s been doing in the fight, popping the left jab and keeping Davis at bay and causing blood to get under Davis’ eye. He landed the most significant strike of the round, a hard knee to the chin. A very close fight heading into the final round.
9:44: Round 3 to Davis (10-9, 29-28 Davis). Davis went back to being the more active fighter. He connected on the best sequence, a superman punch followed by a left hand. Bader scored a takedown with 15 seconds left in the round but Davis reversed and had side control as the horn sounded. Bader looks tentative and needs to start letting it go more often.
9:38: Round 2 to Bader (10-9, 19-19). Bader let his hands go a bit more than the opening sequence, popping the jab and landed a hard overhand right near the end of the round. Davis looked to trying win in highlight reel fashion. Davis needs to get a takedown as Bader will win a stand-up contest all fight long.
9:32: Round 1 to Davis (10-9). A good way for Davis to start out. He looks more confident. He stuffed a Bader takedown, popped the jab while Bader appeared to be more in the feeling out mode.
9:24: The headlining fight of the prelims is up next, for the Bellator light heavyweight title as Phil Davis defends against Ryan Bader. They fought back in Jan. 2015 with the challenger walking out with a controversial split decision. Davis won the belt back in November from Liam McGeary. Bader will be making his promotional debut will be fighting for a world title which he has never done.
9:21: Welcome to SN’s live coverage of Bellator NYC: Sonnen vs. Silva from Madison Square Garden. It will be a great night of action so stay locked in and catch the biggest MMA card of 2017.
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can listen to his podcast, “The Fight Club Chicago” here. You can email him at email@example.com and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA.