UFC veteran Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer Silva” and “The American Gangster/ The Bad Guy” Chael Sonnen are headlining possibly the single biggest event held by the Viacom-owned Bellator MMA, their return to pay-per-view for just the second time in the organization’s history and their debut at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.
If Sonnen flops in the fight, his run with the company as a whole may be viewed as a flop. He sells pay-per-views and/or gets ratings thanks to his mouth like other fighters before him, but his growing failures are making him harder to sell.
He entered Bellator in January, losing by submission to one of possibly his most-bitter rivals (that has haunted him since their college days) and former UFC light heavyweight champion “The Huntington Beach Bad Boy/ The People’s Champion” Tito Ortiz. He might be of more use by continuing his role as a commentator.
Talking trash in order to sell fight has been and will likely always be a part of the fight game and Sonnen comes across as a little over-the-top, a little bit too much like something out of the world of pro wrestling. Still, Silva took exception to comments made by the West Linn, Oregon native and the two would eventually engage in a street fight (in front of Sonnen’s wife) in Brazil during their UFC runs (Sonnen claims to have been jumped.)
Breaking Down the Fight and Current Odds
Sonnen has been finished three times within the confines of his last five bouts, but old tactics appear to be working. Silva has the edge in striking while the known go-to game plan for his opponent has always been wrestling, which hasn’t been working as well as it has in the past. Still, the advantage that Sonnen does have is once again on the microphone. The Odds:Both men are currently even at the time of this writing (June 20) at -125.
Silva has publicly acknowledged wanting to “feel Sonnen’s blood, to destroy him”. Charging at his one-time sparring partner like a raging bull could cost him. He could also be impacted by possible ring-rust. He was released from the UFC for refusing to be drug tested and was originally supposed to debut for Bellator back in December but was the victim of a car accident.
Silva also had a lifetime ban imposed on him by the Nevada State Athletic Commission (NSAC) and was ordered to pay a $70,000 fine.
*Sonnen has had his own issues with drug test and the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) has said that both men have been tested already and the test results are due back before they meet eacher inside the Bellator cage. Sonnen had previously served a two-year suspension after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs.)*
The NSAC ban was overturned by order of a judge in May of 2015. Despite these factors, he knows to expect a battle in the clinch in an effort to get him down, expecting what Sonnen usually does.
“Now, finally, my technique is back. Everything is right, and I’m really happy. I’m so happy to get back to work. I trained a lot of knees, because I know what he wants to do,” Silva said. “He has just one movement, and in that moment, I’m going to catch him.”
He is currently 35-12-, 1 No Contest with his last victory coming again the now-retired Brian “The All-American” Stann over four years ago. Although, he has finished 28 of his fights (80 percent with 25 KO/TKOs, 71 percent) so the plans of attack by both men appear to be relatively cut-and-dry.
The UFC’s Maricio “Shogun” Rua, a friend of Silva’s, is confident in the result.
“I think that’s good for Wanderlei because he loves rivalries. He seeks that,” Rua said to MMAFighiting.com earlier today “I don’t know if Sonnen can handle this pressure. Wanderlei is f***ing great. Wanderlei is a guy that brings this rivalry to the cage…(Silva wins) by knockout. Wanderlei has heavy hands. I know them really well. If Wanderlei can trade a little bit, he can get the knockout.”
Sonnen is 1-4 in his last five fights with three of those finish losses coming inside of the opening five minutes. If Silva doesn’t do the same in their upcoming clash, it will likely be because he wants to toy with his rival in a similar fashion to Rousey vs. Correia at UFC 190 following a suicide taunt from Bethe “Pitbull” Correia. That should be the only reason for which the bout would go the distance.
The wrestler in Sonnen also has multiple ventures going as a commentator, podcast host, and other things such as a foray into pro wrestling with the Global Force Wrestling promotion owned by WWF/WWE veteran Jeff Jarrett.
While the exact number of bout he has on his Bellator contract was not disclosed at the time of his September 2016 signing, it is entirely possible that his retirement is looming over him like a dark cloud.
Prediction: Wanderlei Silva def. Chael Sonnen by way of KO/TKO
As was reported in a previous blog post, Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione will serve as the co-main event for the Bellator: NYC pay-per-view portion of a double-header card with Bellator 180 serving as the free undercard, airing on Bellator’s home television network of Spike.
180 will see three championships being put on the line before the big-name fights take center-stage. UFC veteran Lorenz “The Monsoon” Larkin and welterweight champion Douglas “The Phenom” Lima will scrap. Lightweight king “Iron” Michael Chandler will clash with Brent Primus. Light heavyweight champion and UFC veteran “Mr. Wonderful” Phil Davis will meet the debuting fellow UFC veteran Ryan “Darth” Bader in his first title defense as well.
**The pay-per-view card is set to start at at 10PM ET | 7PM PT while the TV portion will kick-off at 7PM ET | 4PM PT.
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