BellatorMMA president Scott Coker has long promised that when the promotion begins operating in New York, it will come in with a bang. Well, Cokeris living up his word.
Coker told The Associated Press the promotion will stage Bellator 180 at Madison Square Garden on June 24, and the main event will be a pay-per-view grudge match between Chael Sonnen and WanderleiSilva.
“We always said that when we come to New York, we’ll bring the biggest and the best fight card we’ve ever had in the history of this company,”Coker told the AP. “We’re putting it together, and our roster is robust enough that we feel like it’s time to get into the pay-per-view business, so here we go.”
Sonnen and Silva started their rivalry when they were opposing coaches on“The Ultimate Fighter Brazil 3.”
After the season, Sonnen and Silva were scheduled to fight at UFC 175. The fight didn't happen because Sonnenfailed a drug test and Silva evaded a drug test. The Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) suspended Sonnen for two years while Silva received an unprecedented lifetime ban. ANevada judge ultimately threw out the ruling. The NSAC took its time granting Silva a new hearing before giving him a three-year suspension.
The UFC released Silva from his contract and he signed with Bellator. Sonnen came out of retirement in the fall to sign with the promotion. He debuted in January, losing to Tito Ortiz by first-round submission.
The AP also reported Bellator will soon be adding fights soon that will include "a handful of its newly signed free agents.” It recently added light heavyweight Ryan Bader, welterweight Lorenz Larkin and heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko, who was supposed to make his debut last month against Matt Mitrione. Mitrione had to pull out the day of the fight because of kidney stones.
Emelianenko and Mitrione will try again in the co-feature of Bellator 180.
Steven Muehlhausen is an MMA and boxing writer and contributor for Sporting News. You can find his podcast, "The Fight Club Chicago," and subscribe on iTunes. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and can find him on Twitter @SMuehlhausenMMA.