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Bellator 180: Chael vs Wandy


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I know I'm stepping on Egg Shen's territory as our resident Bellator man here, but I think this deserves its own separate thread. And you know I'm going to be all over it given who's in the main event. 

Saturday 24th June. Bellator make their debut at Madison Square Garden in NYC, as they return to PPV with this lot...




Chael Sonnen vs Wanderlei Silva 

Fedor Emelianenko vs Matt Mitrione 

Michael Chandler vs Brent Primus - Lightweight Title

Aaron Pico vs Zach Freeman

Douglas Lima vs Lorenz Larkin - Welterweight Title

Phil Davis vs Ryan Bader - Light Heavyweight Title

Neiman Gracie vs Dave Marfone

James Gallagher vs Chinzo Machida

Heather Hardy vs Alice Yauger

Ryan Couture vs Haim Gozali

Jerome Mickle vs Anthony Giacchina

John Salgado vs Hugh McKenna

Matt Rizzo vs Sergio Da Silva 

Bradley Desir vs Nate Grebb 


For me that's easily the best card (on paper) in Bellator history. There's a bit of everything on this one and the word that immediately jumps out to me is 'fun'. You'd have never seen a show like this under the old Bjorn Rebney regime. Scott Coker knows what's up. 


Anyway. Let's get cracking...



CHAEL SONNEN VS WANDERLEI SILVA is a grudge match that's been about 7 years in the making if you really want to go back to its roots. It's a rivalry that was actually born back in 2010 in the build up to Chael's first fight against Anderson Silva. Chael had been saying all manner of shit about Brazil and Brazilian fighters and Wandy had a problem with it. Then there was that well circulated video of them in a car. 

"We have a saying in Brazil. You have respect, you don't lose your teeth" - Wanderlei Silva 

They never really saw eye to eye again after that. And it seemed like every time one of them was interviewed, they'd just blast the other. 

Despite it beginning in 2010, serious talk of them actually fighting didn't start until 2013. There were strong rumours that they'd headline the first ever UFC on FOX Sports event in Boston in the August, but Wandy was recovering from injuries and it never got finalised. But adding even more fuel to the beef between them, Chael ended up submitting Wand's good buddy Shogun Rua that night in Boston. Then he had a message for Wanderlei...

"Wanderlei Silva. 6 feet tall and 205lbs. Boy, until I met you I didn't know they stacked crap that high" - Chael Sonnen 

The heat continued to rise, with the trash talk between the two getting more and more frequent. Chael kept bashing Wanderlei's legacy, claiming that Pride was full of fixed fights. And Wand wouldn't let Chael's lack of "hespect" for Brazil go. At this point, a fight between the two seemed inevitable. Too much had been said. 

"A guy puts a tattoo on the back of his skull, puts his beady eyes on you and rolls his wrists around, and all of a sudden the whole world thinks that's scary. That doesn't do anything for me. I'll slap you right on your face while you're rolling your wrists around. My point wasn't so much to attack Wanderlei, it was to let the rest of the world know, "Who cares? Who cares about his tattoo and his beady eyes and his rolly little wrists?" - Chael Sonnen 

In 2014 they were booked as opposing coaches on TUF Brazil 3. And straight away they were constantly getting in each others' faces. 


Wandy was the aggressor and came across badly. To the point a lot of fans who went in supporting Wanderlei, ended up souring on him. Chael wound him up a treat. 

"He just talks, all the time, just talks and talks and talks" - Wanderlei Silva 

In the end, Wanderlei got so wound up he started a fight on the TUF set with Chael. 



They were scheduled to fight that summer after the show wrapped filming. The fight was booked. It was announced for UFC 175 in July 2014. They did posters and a press conference and a face off and everything. 


It was signed, sealed but unfortunately not delivered.

There was speculation throughout the entire build up that Wanderlei was going to pull out of the fight. But a lot of that was coming from Chael himself so we all just hoped it was Chael being Chael. But then shit hit the fan when Wanderlei 'ran from a random drug test'. That's how it was told at the time anyway, that he ran out the back door of the gym. Details that came out since were a little different but regardless, Wandy certainly didn't handle it well and was swiftly pulled from UFC 175, suspended and later BANNED FOR LIFE. That's obviously changed. 

Of course, the nanosecond the news broke that Wandy avoided a drug test, Chael was all the fuck over it. Full of 'I told you so' and gloating. And Chael's biggest arse licker FrontRowBrian was unbearable as well. Then hilariously, Chael's drug test results came back and they were dirtier than a 12 man Ava Devine gangbang. 

And that was that. Chael didn't fight for 3 years after that. He returned to the cage this year for Bellator, looking doughy, and lost in embarrassing fashion by submission in 2 minutes to a retiring Tito Ortiz.

Wanderlei hasn't fought since March 2013 when he knocked out Brian Stann in one of the wildest slugfests you'll ever see. To put it in perspective, when Wandy last fought Conor McGregor hadn't even debuted in the UFC yet, Ronda Rousey had just debuted, Mighty Mouse was the newly crowned Flyweight champ, Anderson Silva was still middleweight king and TRT Vitor was running wild. It seems like a lifetime ago. 


I hope it happens this time. I'd given up all hope, to be honest. But it'd be a shame if this one got added to the 'fights that got away' files along with Fedor vs Brock, Fedor vs Randy, GSP vs Anderson etc. Let's put it to bed once and for all. 

I like Chael. I don't like him as much as I used to but he's a fun character to have around. Make no mistake though I'm hoping Wanderlei knees his face into dust. 

"Suck my balls" - Wandy to Chael at the Bellator 180 press conference 



FEDOR EMELIANENKO VS MATT MITRIONE I've made no secret, is a fight I'm not in love with. But that's mostly because I can't stand the thought of a proper legend like Fedor losing to a fucking knob helmet like Meathead. And I think there's a good possibility of that. Fedor's way smaller and has way more miles on the clock. And in a shootout, which is how Fedor's fights often go, I don't fancy his chin holding up. It just feels like a waste of what is likely going to be one of Fedor's last few fights.


On the plus side it's very unlikely to be boring or dull. And if Fedor DOES win, I'll do a complete u-turn on this piece of matchmaking and it'll instantly be one of my favourite fights of the year. 



MICHAEL CHANDLER VS BRENT PRIMUS is a really interesting fight. Chandler is one of the very best fighters not under UFC contract. He's best known for his 2 classics against Eddie Alvarez but he's put together wins over Benson Henderson, Patricky 'Pitbull' Freire twice, David Rickels twice, Marcin Held, Rick Hawn and Akihiro Gono. He's 16-3 and 2 of the 3 losses were razor thin splits to Alvarez and Will Brooks. He's a beast. Brent Primus is no joke himself, he's 7-0 with 5 finishes and a BJJ black belt. He hasn't beat anyone of much note yet and it's undeniable that Chandler has operated on a much higher level but you can never tell with these undefeated guys. He could be biting off more than he can chew or he might be about to rise to the challenge. 



DOUGLAS LIMA VS LORENZ LARKIN is Bellator 180's ***WAND'S ONE TO WATCH***. I absolutely love this pairing. I love all aspects of MMA but striking martial arts were my first love (you never forget your first) and that's what brought me to MMA. These two are killers in the standup but their styles are different and at the same time dangerous. Lima's looked tremendous recently in his wins over Andrey Koreshkov and Paul Daley. He's a serious badass and I've liked him for a while. I'm pulling for Larkin though. His striking style is just beautiful to watch. He's fast, fluent, powerful, accurate, technical, the lot. He'll throw in wacky shit like the old Andy Hug spinning kicks to the legs, he's lethal with elbows. He's just great to watch. Up there with Joanna Jedrzejczyk for me in terms of my most enjoyable strikers to watch in MMA.

Larkin's not a typical 'UFC castoff' either. He's not in Bellator because he couldn't hang in the UFC. He's currently coming off back to back wins over Jorge Masvidal and Neil Magny. He's won 4 of his last 5 and even the loss to Tumenov was debatable. I scored it for Larkin. His last loss before that was 2014. Oh and he holds a win over Robbie fucking Lawler! Lorenz Larkin is the shit. Record of 24-5-1 and he's still only 30 years old. Fucker's in his prime. I think he was a fantastic signing for Bellator, one that's been a bit overlooked IMO. 



AARON PICO VS ZACH FREEMAN is a funny one to open a PPV with but I totally get why they're doing it. Pico is an amateur wrestling standout and this is his MMA debut. He's got all kinds of credentials and accolades as a wrestler going right back to when he was a little kid. He's only 20 years old now. A baby.

Apparently he signed a long term deal with Bellator/Viacom back in 2014 (when he was 16/17!) because they saw huge potential in him. I guess he's just been training since then. He's not being given a particularly easy debut either. Freeman is 8-2 and has fought for titles at the regional promotions level. 

"Simply put, Aaron has all the makings of MMA’s next great superstar, and to have him here at Bellator MMA is something special. Like many of us in the MMA community, Aaron is someone we’ve been watching closely over the last few years, and after sitting down with Bob Cook and his team, getting a chance to meet Aaron, and hearing his long-term aspirations, the fit became very obvious" - Scott Coker 

Interesting. I've seen stuff saying there are already comparisons being made to Jon Jones, which is way premature but we'll see what happens. He's probably in the right place training at AKA. If there's a gym that gets the best out of wrestlers, it's AKA. Just hope he doesn't get injured as often as most of AKA's guys do. 



PHIL DAVIS VS RYAN BADER 2 is a rematch I'd have been quite happy never to see again but there's worse fights Bellator could've made. And to be honest, after watching some of those no time limit stinkers in the Pride events review thread, this is probably going to look like Hunt vs Bigfoot in comparison. 

I guess it's got kind of a story to it as well, this one. Davis has gone 4-0 since coming to Bellator. Wins over Liam McGeary, King Mo, Francis Carmont and Emanuel Newton. His last loss was to...Ryan Bader in the UFC in 2015. It was a split decision and it wasn't a very good fight but there you go. This is Bader's Bellator debut. Like Larkin, the UFC let him go after some wins. He comes into this fight following stoppage wins over Little Nog and Ilir Latifi. It's a legit fight, this. Not likely to be an exciting one though, and the idea of 2 extra rounds this time makes me shudder. 



JAMES GALLAGHER VS CHINZO MACHIDA is another fight that I'm excited about. There's hype building on Gallagher. He's 6-0 with 5 subs, he's only 20 years old, he's Irish and he's a teammate of Conor McGregor at SBG. That's all good stuff for a young guy starting out. A lot of doors will be opened for you with all that going for you. He looks good, to be fair. He's fighting Chinzo Machida, brother of Lyoto. He's 40 years old (literally double Gallagher's age) and has a 5-2 record. It's Gallagher's debut in Bellator, debut on American soil, he's fighting someone called Machida and it's MSG. Pretty cool for a debut. The New York crowd should love him as well. 


NEIMAN GRACIE is 28 years old, 5-0 with 4 finishes. All his fights have either been in Bellator or WSOF. And he's a Gracie. The name's taken a bit of a battering over the years but it's still always cool to see a Gracie pop up. Never seen or heard of this one though. 



KERI ANNE MELENDEZ, wife of Gilbert (or Giblert, if you're Reebok), returns for her second Bellator outing. She scored a quick KO in her Bellator/MMA debut in November. Only 1-0 in MMA but she's got some Muay Thai experience. 


RYAN COUTURE, son of UFC legend Randy, is also back in the cage. Fuck me, everyone's got a relative on this card. Ryan's career hasn't really panned out, has it? He's fought in Strikeforce, UFC and Bellator but he's had very mixed results. And with a 10-5 record at 34 years old, it's hard to see him going much further. He's 2-2 in Bellator at the moment, and he was finished within a round in his last 2 fights. Like his old man, he seems a nice guy but a surname will only take you so far. 


HEATHER HARDY is a former pro boxer making her MMA debut. She went 20-0-1 as a boxer. It's her backstory that caught my attention though. She was raped when she was 12 by a weed dealer. 

"I've seen my rapist back in the neighborhood multiple times, and even as an undefeated titleholder, I'm scared to death… I've never been afraid in the ring for even a moment. I love to think I could totally beat the shit out of him, but I'm terrified. I never told anyone this but even at 33, I still wake up screaming. 'Get off, me! Get off, me!' I can still feel his weight" - Heather Hardy 

Fucking hell :( 

Don't know much about her boxing career but according to her record she only scored 4 knockouts out of 20 wins. So not a massive puncher. Little MMA gloves now though. After reading her story though I'm rooting for her. How can you not? She's from New York as well so she'll be a crowd favourite. 

Really can't wait for this show. I've seen people big up Bellator cards before and go 'I'm as excited for this as UFC ____' and I always think nah. This time though, I genuinely am looking forward to this as much as most of the stuff coming up in the UFC. The Wanderlei factor helps but it's a really good card throughout, has a bit of everything, plus a Gracie, a Couture, a Melendez, a Machida. Plenty to like about this.

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I'll make sure to tune in for this one. Bellator is like chocolate for me. I indulge in it very rarely, and it's a guilty pleasure - but I really enjoy it in the moment. Once upon a time, I was a big fan of both Sonnen and Wanderlei. However, neither have aged well. Wanderlei's back catalogue has held up fine. You can sit back and re-live his demolition jobs of Ramage and Sakuraba without much thought of what he later became. However, he's still made a fool out of himself in recent years, and was last at his best some 12 years ago. Chute Boxe fighters have always had a short peak.

A lot of Sonnen's antics have not aged well, and he's become a walking parody of himself these days. His quick wit just about saves him from reaching Tito Ortiz levels of cringe-worthy. That being said, I'll treat this what it is. A slice of nostalgia between two of MMA's most memorable characters. It also helps that I haven't the foggiest idea who is going to win.

Oh, and it bears repeating. God I hope Fedor whacks Meathead. 

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Meathead is just a horrible shit, isn't he? Does anyone actually like him? He seems the type of cunt who even his parents go 'oh fuck me, Matt's calling. Say I'm asleep' when he rings them.

Actually no, I bet he doesn't even phone his parents. 

I hope Fedor hits him so hard his cheese actually goes back on his cracker. 

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The thought of Meathead having a win over Fedor on his resume makes me shudder. Fedor is remembered as an all-time great, who competed in an organisation that most remember fondly. Meathead was a middling Heavyweight. His UFC career holds zero nostalgia value, and a large chunk of it came at time where the sport was in a cooling off period (2012-2014) Yes he was on TUF 10, which a lot of fans remember fondly, but I don't think people dig out their DVD of that series to re-live Meathead's antics. It's Rashad's punchline - "his cheese has fallen off his cracker - that people found endearing, not the person it was said against. 

Meathead's personality makes things even worse. If Pat Barry was up against Fedor, you could perhaps turn a blind-eye if Barry won - even if Barry's standing in the sport isn't 1/10th of what Fedor's is. Barry is an affable chap, and would no doubt be very respectful towards Fedor. In contrast, Meathead has never really endeared himself to the MMA public. 

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Really interested in the Aaron Pico fight. The hype is strong for that lad. Helwani has said he is the best prospect in the sport. Golden Gloves boxer and a crazy good wrestling pedigree. Almost made the US Olympic team as a teenager, which no one has done for 40 years. He probably should be building his record on small shows not opening a PPV but if he is as good as they say the skys the limit.


If Meathead wins I'll just put it down to Fedors age and try and forget it ever happened like Schaub/Crocop. 

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Yeh i reckon Pico being announced on a Bellator show when they signed him in 2014, i remember being a bit disappointed that he was announced 3 years before his debut, but here he is. 

I think this may be my favorite MMA card of the year, certainly not the best, but its my favorite. Whereas the the UFC just pumps out cards stacked with very good matchups, sometimes it can feel like a completist thing where everyone fights everyone. I don't get that feel with Bellator, this show is a great mix of matchups of all sorts of levels, the Pico matchup sums that up, you never see the UFC take a rookie and build him from scratch (errr not counting CM Punk), Bellator have several projects on the go like it and i enjoy seeing them being brought along. 


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Gone with Chael by decision :( Meathead by KO :( and Larkin by decision :) in the poll. 

Just can't shake the horrible feeling that Meathead's going to catch Fedor and lay him out. 

And I've always pictured Chael vs Wand to look like a middle aged married couple doing missionary. With Wand as the wife. 

If Fedor and Wanderlei both win this will go down as one of my favourite cards ever.

Then Coker must book Fedor vs Wandy! 

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im the opposite wand. i see Chael coming in, shooting desperate for a takedown, maybe having some early success but then taking a dive when it gets back on the feet. Chael doesn't seem to have any interest in being in a tough fight these days. 

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I hope you're right.

I don't think Chael's likely to finish Wanderlei. I don't think he has enough venom in his ground and pound to put Wand away. He might cut him up though. And I can't see him catching Wandy in a submission. Wand's always had good defensive BJJ. I just can't see Wand being able to stop the takedowns though. If he can land some heavy shots early before Chael gets his wrestling going then I can see Chael folding. But I think it's more likely Chael wrestles his way to a frustrating UD. Chael's last few losses were terrible performances but if you look at who he lost to it was Tito Ortiz, Rashad Evans and Jon Jones. Strong wrestlers who Chael couldn't outwrestle. His last win was Shogun who's cut more from the cloth Wanderlei is, and Chael had his way. Granted Shogun looked off that night but I think it's notable that Chael often does badly against opponents who he can't bully around with his wrestling. I think Wanderlei is someone he can wrestle. Maybe not dominate but I reckon he'll have enough success with it to take a decision. 

I hope you're right though. Chael and his fans are going to be insufferable if he wins. 

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30 minutes ago, wandshogun09 said:

I think it's notable that Chael often does badly against opponents who he can't bully around with his wrestling. I think Wanderlei is someone he can wrestle. Maybe not dominate but I reckon he'll have enough success with it to take a decision. 

That said, could it be argued that Anderson Silva is also cut from similar cloth, and Chael couldn't bully him? I daresay the skill levels between Anderson and Wanderlei weren't a gulf apart.

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He definitely bullied Anderson in the first fight. For 4 and a half rounds anyway. 

Its hard to say. Anderson was in his prime then. Chael was probably at his PED fuelled best back then as well. Now it's a big mystery. Chael looked awful against Tito. And we haven't seen Wanderlei in 4 years. Neither of them are anywhere near their primes in 2017 so fuck knows what we're getting. 

It's a fact though that Wandy doesn't have the wrestling that the guys who have most recently beat Chael had (Tito, Rashad, Jones). Logically you'd think Chael will have an easier time taking Wand down than those guys. Like I said, the closest style and skillset to Wanderlei that we've seen Chael face in the last few years was Shogun. That was Chael's last win, the last time he looked good and I'd argue the biggest win of his career. 

I'm a little bit surprised people are giving Wand such a shot at winning this. When the fight was supposed to happen after TUF Brazil, pretty much nobody was giving Wand a chance. I'm not sure what's changed really. Other than Chael's shit showing against Tito. But we haven't seen Wanderlei at all in years. He's been gone 4 years and has presumably had to come off whatever he was on. Who knows how he's going to look? 

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1 hour ago, wandshogun09 said:

He definitely bullied Anderson in the first fight. For 4 and a half rounds anyway. 

Anderson had a fucked rib, which definitely made a difference, there rematch shows that. Chael is going to be facing a different Silva who is definitely less of a skilled fighter all round. So I do think Chael is going to go back to his usual lay and pray, because I believe Wand not being on the gas is going flounder on the ground.

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