This card immediately feels important with Mike Goldberg, Brendan Schaub and Josh Thomson at the desk before we head over to the announce table where Mauro Ranallo and Jimmy Smith get set to call the action inside of the cage. We kick things off with a welterweight title bout between the 2-time Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima and Lorenz Larkin who will be making his Bellator debut.
Welterweight Championship Bout
Douglas Lima (c) (28-6) vs. Lorenz Larkin (18-5)
A feeling out process in the opening round that appeared to go to Lima based on being the busier man. We get a shot of a very focused Rory MacDonald watching this fight from the audience.
watching this one closely
— Rory MacDonald (@rory_macdonald) June 25, 2017
This fight didn’t really get going until just before the mid way point in round 2 when Larkin started landing some vicious strikes only to be countered flush by Lima who would quickly find himself on his back eating Lima’s ground and pound. It was a left hook that did the job for Lima.
— Bellator MMA (@BellatorMMA) June 25, 2017
Larkin was able to clear out the cobwebs and get back to his feet where Lima would secure the round. Lima continues to do a great job landing the leg kicks while Larkin is very tentative. Larkin is likely up 2 rounds to none. The boo birds start to come out at the end of an uneventful 3rd round. Lima finishes strong and steals the round. Lima continues to walk Larkin down as Larkin feints and lands absolutely nothing. Left head kick by Larkin bounces off the forearm of Lima. Larkin is bouncing around, he looks good, he just isn’t giving Lima anything as Lima continues to play defense knowing that he has this fight in the bag thus far. Mauro gives us a ‘Marky Mark’ reference calling on Larkin to ‘Pump Up The Volume’. Larkin appears to finally have a round in the books until Lima trips him and spends the final part of the round on top.
It’s time for Round 5 and Larkin needs a finish to win here but he’s not fighting like it. Unlike Lima, he’s actually trying to land something here, seems to be strictly defense for Lima. Lima lands a nasty body kick and the two start to exchange. This is the most action we’ve seen since the 2nd round. Lima turns it on with 10 seconds left and we are off to the judges scorecards. Not a fight to write home about but with both men having KO power you have to understand the respect they have for one another. Also, Lima has to be a frustrating guy to fight. Both men landed a total of 63 strikes.
FINAL RESULT: Douglas Lima (c) (29-6) defeats Lorenz Larkin (18-6) via UD (50-45, 48-47 x 2)
Lima tells Jimmy Smith in his post-fight interview that Larkin messed him up when he switched to southpaw and that Rory MacDonald, who Smith confirms is next for Lima, can “come get it”.
Rory joins the broadcast desk to tell us that he was very underwhelmed with the fight. We get a highlight of MacDonald walking through Paul Daley in London last month. MacDonald makes repeated references to “graves” and “burying” people.
Aaron Pico (Pro MMA Debut) Zach Freeman (8-2)
A TON of hype on Aaron Pico coming into this fight. He’s being called the greatest prospect since Jon Jones and his accolades in wrestling are out of this world. Oh yeah, he’s only 20 years old. Let’s see what he’s got.
Wow – Freeman stuns Pico early with a right uppercut and chokes him out with a d’arce. Freeman is going nuts. He’s screaming. “I shocked the world baby!” There goes the Pico hype train for now. That’s the 4th fastest submission in Bellator’s storied history.
FINAL RESULT: Zach Freeman (9-2) defeats Aaron Pico (0-1) via submission (D’arce Choke) – Round 1, 0:24
Lightweight Championship Bout
Michael Chandler (c) (16-3) vs. Brent Primus (7-0)
Chandler hurts his ankle early in an awkward sequence and Primus hits a flying knee, he smells blood. Chandler’s lead leg, his left leg is toast. Chandler nails Primus with a right! The ref calls time. You have to end this fight at this point. Smith and Ranallo are upset for obvious reasons. The ref calls off the fight after a staff member pulls out the stool from Chandler without notifying him. Circus. You’d have to see it to believe it.
— Seán Sheehan (@SeanSheehanBA) June 25, 2017
Brent Primus is your new lightweight champ and he has earned it. It’s just a shame the way it went down.
We see in the replay that it was just an awkward sequence where Chandler stepped back and his ankle completely gave out. We see the replay over and over and it’s disgusting.
— Punch-Drunk Pauly (@punchdrunkpauly) June 25, 2017
FINAL RESULT: Brent Primus (8-0) defeats Michael Chandler (c) (16-4) via TKO (injury) – Round 1, 2:22 to become the new Bellator Lightweight Champion
Primus says Chandler can have an immediate rematch. Chandler screams “Cut it off!” He wants to keep fighting.
Fedor Emelianenko (36-4) vs. Matt Mitrione (11-5)
Here we go. Arguably the greatest heavyweight in the history of mixed martial arts against an extremely accurate and dangerous striker who has a speed advantage and has a heck of a lot less mileage than the legend. This could go either way.
Bellator’s entrances are amazing. Nothing will be on par with PRIDE but this is as close as you’re going to get in mixed martial arts today. Fedor still gives me goosepimples. Could this be the end of ‘The Last Emperor’? Or can he recapture the magic on a historic night in New York City?
Mauro points out that this is the first time Fedor has fought in the US in 7 years. The feeling out process is officially over and we get a double knockdown!! Both men connected with nasty right hands at the same exact time. Fedor got the worst of it and Mitrione recovers first to finish the job. This card has been insane.
Double Knockdown, Mitrione KO’s Fedor. Wow! pic.twitter.com/c7d2LbN7h8
— Chase Sherman (@ChaseShermanUFC) June 25, 2017
FINAL RESULT: Matt Mitrione (12-5)defeats Fedor Emelianenko (36-5) via KO (punches) – Round 1, 1:14
Mitrione says ‘F**k the Golden State Warriors and asks President Trump to invite him to the White House. He also shows love for the late Tim Hague who recently died following a boxing match last week due to a brain hemorrhage. You can donate to the GoFundMe here.
Mitrione is greeted by Tito Ortiz, Randy Couture, Dan Henderson, Roy Nelson, Chuck Zito and others as he exits the cage.
Neiman Gracie (5-0) vs. Dave Marfone (5-2)
Since this card has gone by incredibly fast we are getting a bonus fight here that likely would have aired after the PPV. Gracie is from the most important family in jiu-jitsu and he fights like it. This Marfone’s Bellator debut.
He ducks under a wild punch from Marfone and gets him down with a quick takedown. Marfone is looking to escape but now Gracie has his back. They separate. Gracie lands a right hand behind the ear and Marfone trips him but refuses to follow him to the ground. Gracie gets Marfone down to the ground again and begins to work from top position. Full mount for Gracie but Marfone immediately gets back into half guard. Marfone is back up again and they separate. Marfone goes for a guillotine within the final 10 seconds and Gracie does the Mutombo finger shake signifying that he is just fine.
Gracie continues to work for a takedown in the 2nd as Marfone is continuously warned not to grab the cage. Gracie backpacks Marfone and hangs on as he tries to shake him unsuccessfully. Gracie locks in the body triangle and locks in the RNC to force the tap.
We get a nice shot of delighted Royce Gracie in the crowd.
FINAL RESULT: Neiman Gracie (6-0) defeats Dave Marfone (5-3) via submission (RNC) – Round 2, 2:27
Light Heavyweight Bout
Chael Sonnen (28-15-1) vs. Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1)
This is Wanderlei’s first fight in over 4 years and Sonnen is almost 4 years removed from his last victory. Anything is possible here. This fight was supposed to happen in the UFC multiple times back in 2014. There is no love lost here folks. Expect Wanderlei to come in hot. He wants to knock Sonnen’s head off. Sonnen needs to outsmart ‘The Axe Murderer’ and get him to the ground early.
Sonnen makes his pro wrestling heel entrance fully equipped with sound bites featuring the same quotes he’s been giving us for years now. Hey, if the gimmick keeps making you money, keep it up. Wanderlei out to ‘Sandstorm’ as per usual and the crowd loves it. Wand looks intense, but when doesn’t he? He raises his right hand as he enters the cage and the crowd approves.
The Brazilian National Anthem and The United States of America’s National Anthem are played. Dave Navarro appears with a guitar to play the Star Spangled Banner.
It’s right around 12:30 a.m. ET when Michael C. Williams makes the introductions. They’re still calling this the second main event but I don’t remember any national anthems being played during Fedor versus Mitrione. This is the main event folks.
We get the trademark hand roll from Wanderlei before Big John reads each man his rights. There is no glove touch as expected. Sonnen comes in hot and scores a quick takedown. Ground and pound by Sonnen and there is no pillow punches being thrown here – he’s landing some good shots. Sonnen is staying busy landing equally to the body and the head. He’s manhandling Silva. Wanderlei explodes back up but Sonnen closes the distance. Wanderlei separates. Wand lands a right hand right on the temple! Sonnen is wobbly and Silva gets on top. Now Sonnen is back on top and Wand looks spent. The layoff has to be killing him right about now. The round ends with Sonnen on top.
Tito Ortiz is trash talking from the crowd between rounds, “You got clipped pu**y.”
Sonnen comes out with a flying knee. Wand lands again and Sonnen jumps into his guard. Silva locks in a guillotine but it’s not very tight. They hold this position for what seems like forever.
Mauro Ranallo: This is not the mannequin challenge!
— Chamatkar Sandhu (@SandhuMMA) June 25, 2017
Big John threatens a stand up. We get it. Sonnen with another double leg takedown. Wand is spent. Sonnen continues to deliver ground and pound, not even remotely as vicious as he did in the first round, while Wanderlei is just surviving. Round 2 is in the books and Sonnen is up two rounds to zero.
Wanderlei lands a nice right before being taken down by Sonnen. He simply cannot stop Chael’s world class takedowns. Compustrike tells us that Sonnen has landed 60-99 strikes while Wanderlei has landed 6-16 with 4 minutes left in the 2nd round. Sonnen in half guard now and the crowd is getting restless. Chael teases a kimura a couple of times and Wanderlei tries to get Sonnen off of him but simply cannot. Sonnen gains full mount. Back to side control. He’s clearly in control as Wanderlei is looking for a stand up. It’s not going to happen. This was nothing short of a dominant performance by Sonnen. Wanderlei is pissed.
FINAL RESULT: Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) defeats Wanderlei Silva (35-13-1) via UD (30-26, 30-27 x 2)
Total Strikes Landed (via Compustrike)
Wanderlei Silva: 12-25
Chael Sonnen: 80-136
Sonnen expresses his disdain for New York as Wanderlei pushes him when he walks by. Sonnen says he tapped out Ortiz in less than a minute (it was the other way around) and calls out Fedor for his next fight. That was Bellator 180 folks. I’m sure we’re going to hear plenty of water cooler talk surrounding this card over the next couple days.