Bellator’s new Pay-Per-View revenue stream will launch this Saturday night, as Bellator NYC kicks off from the storied Madison Square Garden arena. The headliner will involve a long-awaited grudge match between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva, with the rescheduled Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione bout holding down the co-main event. The PPV stream will also include one of the world’s most meaningful welterweight bouts in existence, as Douglas Lima looks to defend his crown against top talent acquisition Lorenz Larkin. Bellator’s lightweight strap will aslso sway in the balance, as Michael Chandler looks to defend his belt against undefeated grappling ace Brent Primus.
Bellator 180 can be seen this Saturday night, live on Pay-Per-View at 10:00 P.M. EDT/7:00 P.M. PDT, with the SPIKE TV card airing at 8:00 P.M. EDT/5:00 P.M. PDT. There will also be 5 preliminary bouts streaming online. This preview covers all of the PPV main card fights except the main and co-main events, which will have its own posts.
Douglas Lima (28-6 MMA; 10-2 Bellator) vs. Lorenz Larkin (18-5-1 MMA; Bellator Debut): Welterweight Title
Douglas Lima has been a welterweight staple for Bellator MMA as he sports a 10-2 record with the promotion. After dropping his 170 belt to Andrey Koreshkov at Bellator 140, Lima rehabbed some nagging injuries, and returned to action in dominant fashion against Paul Daley at Bellator 158. The decisive win over Daley prompted a Koreshkov rematch at Bellator 164, and Lima made the most of the moment by laying out the Russian cold in the 3rd round, to recapture his world title. Having been at the top of the welterweight division for some time now, Larkin will be a solid test to see exactly how well Lima can do against battle tested, world class talent. And still?
Keys to victory: Check kicks, mix in takedown attempts, force Larkin to make mistakes
Lorenz Larkin made headlines when he opted to team up with Bellator MMA instead of re-signing with the UFC, following back to back high profile wins over Jorge Masvidal and Neil Magny. Moving to the welterweight division proved to be a wise move for Larkin who has won 4 of his last 5, with the lone blemish being a split decision loss to Albert Tumenov. It is fair to say that Larkin has been facing the better competition as of late than has Lima, but this will be the 1st time that he will be schedule for a 5 round fight. With a kick-heavy striking attack, will Larkin’s cardio be able to hold up in the championship rounds, if it even makes it that far? Can Larkin show up to Bellator and instantly become a champion?
Keys to victory: Build off of kicks, elbows in clinch, don’t get desperate
Michael Chandler (16-3 MMA; 13-3 Bellator) vs. Brent Primus (7-0 MMA; 5-0 Bellator): Lightweight Title
There once was a time when Michael Chandler was knee-deep in a 3-fight losing skid, with a future at the top of MMA in question. Since losing to Will Brooks at Bellator 131 in November of 2014, Chandler has gone on an absolute rampage, winning 4 straight, 3 by way of violent finish. Chandler club and sub’d Derek Campos in just 2:17, pounded David Rickels into oblivion again, and recaptured his lightweight belt with a sensational one-punch KO of Patricky Freire, all in about 12 months time. In his last outing, Chandler defended his crown against the former UFC lightweight champion Benson Henderson at Bellator 165, in which we saw the suplex heard ‘round the world. Chandler went on to score the split decision victory, and now has a much less experienced competitor in his cross hairs. Don’t be surprised to see another violent performance from Bellator’s lightweight king.
Keys to victory: Aggression, pressure, force doubt upon Primus
Brent Primus has been flawless thus far in his young 7-0 fight career, which has earned the Jiu-Jitsu specialist a crack at Bellator’s lightweight title. Primus has already competed 5 times under the Bellator banner, earning 3-straight finishes followed by back to back split decision wins. Primus has shown a knack for taking the back, as all 4 of his submission wins have by way of Rear-Naked Choke, but he will have his grappling hands full with the pressure wrestling capabilities of Chandler. Primus has really huge opportunity to make world champion in just 8 fights, but is he really ready for this massive leap up in competition?
Keys to victory: Respect the power of Chandler, get fight to the ground, find the back/top position
Aaron Pico (Pro Debut) vs. Zach Freeman (8-2 MMA; Bellator Debut): Lightweight
Having signed with Bellator over 2 years ago, American Kickboxing Academy’s Aaron Pico will finally be making his long awaited pro/promotional debut. Pico was picked up as part of Bellator’s ploy to sign top wrestling standouts in hopes of cultivating them into MMA fighters. Not only has Pico has won U.S. national titles in various wrestling disciplines, but he has also seen success on the international circuit as well. We all know that wrestling is an excellent foundation to begin an MMA journey, and with a bit of Golden Gloves experience in his back pocket, it appears as though Pico has the makings of someone who could potentially be a force to reckon with.
Keys to victory: Wrestle, slam, suplex
Looking to spoil the coming out party for Pico, Zach Freeman brings a 8-2 record with him to the Bellator cage. Of his 8 victories, 5 have come by way of submission. That submission experience will more than likely come in handy against such an accredited wrestler, but will it be enough?
Keys to victory: Be first, command the cage, magnify rookie mistakes