After years and years of trying to get mixed martial arts legalized in New York the wait is paying off. Back on November 11th 2016, the biggest MMA company blew the rafters off MADISON SQUARE GARDEN for UFC 205. Six weeks later on New Year’s Eve Day WORLD SERIES OF FIGHTING made its New York debut in the theater of the garden. Both cards were sellouts, both cards were the biggest in their companies history. Well now, it’s time for BELLATOR to join the fun for the first time. During the heat of the New York summer; on Saturday night JUNE 24 Bellator will pour some gas on the heat. Bellator President SCOTT COKER has said this will be by far their best card as well. As a matter of fact, the company has announced that for only the second time in its history the VIACOM owned company will not be on SPIKE TV, but will be a PAY PER VIEW card. Logic says that move will be very much financially helpful for them. The last time they went pay per view was for Bellator 120 when QUINTON RAMPAGE JACKSON won a unanimous decision victory over MUHAMMED KING MO LAWAL. A match by the way that will be rematched in 10 days in Rosemont Illinois at Bellator 175.
So far the main event and co-main event have been announced. Combined they should be able to pretty much sell out the “WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS ARENA”. There will be a press conference at MSG on Tuesday March 28th to further discuss the card. The main event is a grudge match between THE AMERICAN GANGSTER CHAEL SONNEN and WANDERLEI THE AXE MURDERER SILVA. Chael just lost to TITO ORTIZ in his retirement bout and Silva last fought in March of 2013 vs BRIAN STANN. The pair were supposed to fight after TUF 3, at UFC 175. Silva was forced out because he evaded a drug test, and then Chael was scratched for failing one. These two finally get the chance to get their hands (and legs) on each other.
The co-main event is a bout that was supposed to take place at Bellator 172 at the SAP CENTER in San Jose. The long awaited cage appearance of THE LAST EMPEROR FEDOR EMELIANENKO will happen in NYC vs MATT MEATHEAD MITRIONE. Matt had to pull out the morning of 172 due to kidney stones. This will be Fedor’s Bellator debut, and conceivably with New York’s Russian population should be quite the show.
This is a perfect storm time for Bellator. The UFC is in somewhat of a cost cutting era with new WME/IMG ownership while Bellator continues to gobble up free agents, and have said they are not done yet. Two of the recent signings; welterweight LORENZ LARKIN and light heavyweight RYAN DARTH BADER also seem headed to this card as well. Another possibility is a strong CONOR MCGREGOR connection. Conor, who is the UFC lightweight champion was just in MSG with friend MICHAEL CONLAN who was making his boxing debut has plenty of friends in Bellator. His training partner BJJ expert welteweight DILLON DANIS was just signed, and fellow SBG fighters CHRIS FIELDS and JAMES GALLAGHER are in the company as well. Lorenz can in theory get a title shot vs THE PHENOM DOUGLAS LARKIN; and Dillon can square up against KEVIN BABY SLICE FERGUSON JR which would be a nice touch for the son of the recently past away KIMBO SLICE. Speaking of legends; New York is home to RENZO GRACIE. Does Bellator help end the Gracie family feud and put his nephews NEIMAN, RALEK, or ROYCE on the card. Without a doubt just like the two other companies before them, every one of their fighters will want on “the NY card”. Three others that will especially are former UFC champion SMOOTH BENSON HENDERSON, former pro wrestler BOBBY LASHLEY, and MMA top blue chip prospect all-american featherweight AARON PICO.
No matter how you cut it, it will be a hot time in ol’ Gotham come June.
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