Bellator NYC takes place this coming Saturday night at Madison Square Garden in New York City and we’ve got our predictions for all the fights on this stacked card below.
Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva
In 2013, Sonnen and Silva briefly brawled on the set of TUF: Brazil, with ‘The Axe Murderer’ initiating the hostilities with a winging punch that Sonnen ducked under as he moved in and took his rival down, and that may very well be seeing a repeat performance of that on Saturday night.
Silva will be looking to land heavy leather, but he’s now 40, hasn’t fought in over four years, has been struggling with injuries during that time, and even confessed to having 12 of the 15 symptoms of brain damage last year.
Sonnen is also 40, but physically and mentally he’s in better condition, and though he suffered a disappointing submission loss to Tito Ortiz in his return to action after a long absence earlier this year, I still think he’s got enough in his locker to repeatedly get Silva to the mat and stifle and frustrate his rival en-route to a decision victory.
Chael Sonnen to win by decision.
Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione
It’ll be interesting to see how this one plays out. It goes without saying that Fedor is the more talented fighter here and is still very dangerous offensively, but he’s another member of the ’40’ club, and this version of the Russian star is slower than he was in his prime, his chin is far more vulnerable and he took a hell of a lot of punishment in his last fight a year ago.
That’s a big concern against Mitrione, who is much bigger than Fedor, has serious knockout power and moves well for his size.
Fedor’s best bet would be to take Mitrione to the mat, where he’d enjoy a major advantage, but he tends to favor stand-up exchanges these days and I think that will cost him dearly as Mitrione rocks him and seals a TKO victory inside of 10 minutes.
Matt Mitrione to win by TKO in Rd2
Douglas Lima vs. Lorenz Larkin
Larkin heads straight into a title shot for his Bellator debut after winning four of his last five fights in the UFC, including back-to-back victories over two tough opponents in Jorge Masvidal and Neil Magny.
He’s facing another big test here however as Bellator’s welterweight champion Lima has only lost twice in his last 18 fights, and like Larkin, he’s at his best on the feet, so this is set to be one of the most competitive fights on the card.
However, Lima is the more well-rounded fighter overall and will be looking to use his grappling edge to mix things up and in an otherwise close encounter I think that might just be enough to get him the nod on the judges scorecards.
Douglas Lima to win by decision.
Michael Chandler vs. Brent Primus
Another title on the line here, this time at lightweight as current champion Chandler faces up to a homegrown Bellator prospect in Primus, who has compiled a 7-0 record to date.
Primus is primarily a Jiu-Jitsu player and that’s served him well so far with four his victories coming by submission, but he’s not fought anyone of Chandler’s caliber and is going to find it hard to deal with his defensive wrestling.
That will leave him having to beat Chandler in a striking battle, where he’s clearly outgunned, so this looks like it’ll be a good night for the champion as he claims a stoppage victory due to strikes in the second round.
Michael Chandler to win by TKO in Rd2.
Aaron Pico vs. Zach Freeman
There’s a lot of hype surrounding the 20-year-old Pico’s MMA + Bellator debut as he’s not only a stand-out wrestler, but also a former Golden Gloves boxing champion, which is a great foundation for the sport, so the promotion have high hopes that he could be a future star.
They are not giving him a pushover for his first ever MMA fight though as he’s going up against an experienced fighter in Freeman, who’s 8-2 in his career to date, though admittedly those two losses both came during his last three outings in the cage.
Still, most of Freeman’s wins have come by way of submission and I think Pico’s just too good of a wrestler to allow him to get in a position to use that, and will have the advantage in other areas of the fight and the athleticism to back it up.
A stoppage victory is a possibility, but given that it is his first test I’ll be a little more cautious and say he claims a decision victory.
Aaron Pico to win by decision.
Bellator 180 Main Card (Predicted winners in bold):
Phil Davis vs. Ryan Bader
James Gallagher vs. Chinzo Machida
Neiman Gracie vs. Dave Marfone
Heather Hardy vs. Alice Yauger