Bellator MMA is returning to Pay Per View, and they’re bringing a grudge match years in the making with them. Bellator 180 will take place at New York’s Madison Square Garden, and feature a main event of Chael Sonnen facing nemesis Wanderlei Silva. The Associated Press broke the news Monday. The event will go down June 24.
Sonnen, 39, last fought in January at Bellator 170, where he was submitted by Tito Ortiz in the latter’s retirement fight. “The American Gangster” is 29–15–1 overall, and 0-2 in his last two fights. It was, however, Sonnen’s first fight back after a lengthy suspension and retirement following multiple failed drug tests surrounding UFC 175.
His would-be opponent at UFC 175, Wanderlei Silva, will be fighting for the first time since his own suspension prior to that ill-fated 2014 event. “The Axe Murderer” was banned from the sport for three years by the NSAC after an initial lifetime ban was overturned. The punishment was handed down after the Brazilian legend ran out on a drug test.
Silva (35–12–1 (1)), 40, last fought in 2013, where he knocked out former WEC light heavyweight champion Brian Stann. The pair coached opposite each other on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil 3, which led to fireworks on the set, but due to their respective suspensions, a fight between the two never materialized. Both eventually left the UFC and signed on with Bellator.
Bellator 180 marks the return not only of two infamous fighters, but the return of Bellator MMA to PPV as well. Its previous (and only) excursion onto the PPV platform was Bellator 120 in May 2014. Originally headlined by Eddie Alvarez vs. Michael Chandler, a concussion to Alvarez in training a week prior to the event saw Rampage Jackson vs. King Mo Lawal promoted to the headlining spot. The event brought home a reported 100,000 buys.
Speaking to the AP, Bellator MMA CEO Scott Coker stated that
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. 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.
The promotion is reportedly planning to debut some of its recent free agent signings at the event as well – which could include names like Lorenz Larkin and recently signed Ryan Bader.