Well, it’s happening. A few years after Bellator’s first ever PPV, the company will try to give it another go, this time in New York City.
It’s a card with two title fights, and yet neither title fight is the main or co-main event. Instead, the co-main event features MMA legend Fedor Emelianenko against former UFC Heavyweight Matt Mitrione, in a fight that was initially scheduled for Bellator 172. The main event is much more dubious, since it’s the conclusion of a “grudge” between former UFC Middleweight title challenger Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.
The two title fights are actually fun on paper, and the bout between freestyle wrestler Aaron Pico and Zach Freeman should be fun too. Whether the card is worthy of its $50 price tag is a question that’s debatable for sure, but the card should be fun for the most part. Here are my predictions for the entire PPV portion of the card.
Bellator NYC (10/9c, PPV)
Bellator Welterweight Championship: (c) Douglas Lima (28-6) vs. Lorenz Larkin (18-5, 1 NC)
For some reason, this bout is opening the PPV. For true fans, however, this is the main event of the evening. Former UFC contender Lorenz Larkin, who won four of his final five UFC bouts before leaving for Bellator, against two-time Bellator Welterweight Champion Douglas Lima, for Lima’s title.
Lima is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt who always goes for the kill. Of his 28 wins, 24 have come via finish, including 13 knockouts. He’s 10-2 in Bellator, with his only losses coming against then Bellator champion and current ONE MMA champion Ben Askren, and later against Andrei Koreshkov. Aside from that, he’s been perfect.
As for Larkin, the former UFC and Strikeforce veteran went 13-0 with a no contest before entering the UFC. While he lost four of his first five UFC bouts, he won four of his final five with the company. However, he didn’t get the contract he wanted, and bolted for Bellator. He’s a terrific striker, has won 11 times via knockout including his last bout, a masterpiece against Neil Magny last August. He’s also got a good gas tank, and has only been finished once.
This fight should be a barnburner. Lima has the ground edge, while Larkin will have a slight advantage on the feet. It’s very likely that this fight won’t go the distance, and very likely could be the fight of the night. I’ll pick Lima, but a win for Larkin should shock nobody. Whatever happens, this is a fight that can’t be missed. Prediction: Lima via tko, round 4.
Aaron Pico vs. Zach Freeman (8-2)
Up next is a bout between star freestyle wrestler Aaron Pico, and Zach Freeman. Pico is making his pro debut, while Freeman is a journeyman who’s been a pro since 2011. Everyone’s picking Pico to win, even though he’s never had a pro fight, while Freeman has 10 and is a finisher. Of Freeman’s eight wins, six of them have been finishes, including five via submission. All of his finishes have come in the first round. I get that there is a lot of hype around Pico, and for good reason. However, I’m picking the upset. Even though Pico is hyped up, this just has the feel of a letdown to it, even if nobody is addressing it as such. Everyone else can pick Pico, but I’ll take the experienced guy over him, and via submission to boot. Prediction: Freeman via submission, round 2.
Bellator Lightweight Championship: (c) Michael Chandler (16-3) vs. Brent Primus (7-0)
This Lightweight title matchup got announced several months ago, but it still hasn’t set in. Primus is an unbeaten black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, has finished five of his wins (all in the first round and four via submission, and is 5-0 in Bellator. And yet, I still don’t think he has a chance.
Granted, Primus is skilled and has a great record in the promotion, but his last fight was in April of last year, and his biggest win was against Derek Anderson. With all due respect to Anderson and all of Primus’ opponents, none of them are at Chandler’s level. Chandler’s only losses have come against Will Brooks and Eddie Alvarez, both Bellator champs and currently in the UFC, with Alvarez being a UFC champion as recently as last November. He’s a finisher, winning 13 of his 16 victories in that fashion, having finished a who’s who of opponents, including Eddie Alvarez. He’s right up there with Alvarez as the two best Lightweights in Bellator history, and while Primus is really good, I can’t shake the feeling that Chandler will finish him early. I hope Primus has a good showing, but I definitely won’t bet on that happening. Prediction: Chandler via tko, round 1 or 2.
Fedor Emelianenko (36-4, 1 NC) vs. Matt Mitrione (11-5)
I’ll keep this short. Fedor is a legend. Many consider him to be the greatest of all time. That said, he turns 41 in a few months, hasn’t looked impressive at all since returning to the sport in 2015 after a three-plus year retirement, and should’ve been given a loss against former UFC punching bag Fabio Maldonado last June. As for Mitrione, while he’s also long in the tooth, he’s less removed from his prime than Fedor is. I want Fedor to win, but this could be a wipeout in favor of Mitrione. There’s a lot more that can be said, but it’s all redundant at this point. Head pick: Mitrione via knockout. Heart pick: Fedor via tko or decision.
Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) vs. Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1, 1 NC)
The main event, oh screw it. It’s a joke. The whole grudge is a joke, and this fight is a joke. Chael’s only in it for the money, and either wins via submission or lay n’ pray, or gets in trouble and gives up as is often the case. Wanderlei is a legend with black belts in both Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and Judo, as well as a black praijad in Muai Thai, as well as 27 knockout wins against a slew of notable victims. However, he turns 41 in ten days, and hasn’t fought since March 2013. Maybe he still has powerful kicks, is rejuvenated and can still knock Chael out? Most likely though, Chael will take him down and lay on him for the whole fight. Either way, the only way this fight will be fun is if Wanderlei gets the knockout. He most probably won’t, and this could, and likely will be, a snoozer. Head pick: Sonnen via boring decision. Heart pick: Silva via vintage, crazy, hellacious knockout.