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Bellator NYC fight card primer: Chael Sonnen vs. Wanderlei Silva

Get the details here on Wanderlei Silva vs. Chael Sonnen in our Bloody Elbow primer.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

The main event of Bellator NYC is a fight that has been in the works for some time - Chael Sonnen (29-15-1 MMA; 0-1 Bellator) vs. Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1(1) MMA; Bellator Debut). This Light Heavyweight fight headlines the 5 fight PPV card. Bellator NYC: Sonnen vs. Silva airs live from Madison Square Garden this Saturday night, June 24. The main card airs on PPV with a fight time of 10:00 p.m. ET, and is preceded by Bellator 180 at 8:00 p.m. ET on Spike.

This fight is a long-time coming. The two men began their rivalry in the UFC, coaching opposite each other on TUF: Brazil season 3 in 2014. They were set to fight at that time, but a series of drug testing issues from both men ultimately led to the fight being cancelled and both fighters (temporarily) retiring from the sport. Now they are back.

How do these two stack up?

Sonnen: 40 years old | 6’1" | 74" reach
Silva: 40 years old | 5’11" | 74" reach

What have these two done recently?

Sonnen: L - Tito Ortiz (Sub) | L - Rashad Evans (TKO) | W - Shogun Rua (Sub)
Silva: W - Brian Stann (KO) | L - Rich Franklin (UD) | W - Cung Le (TKO)

How did these two get here?

Chael Sonnen used a combination of excellent wrestling and even better trash-talking to land two UFC title shots against Anderson Silva plus one against Jon Jones. Sonnen has a long history of struggles with drug tests, and in 2014, he almost simultaneously was handed a 2 year suspension, fired by the UFC, and announced his own retirement. He came back to competition earlier this year, losing in just two minutes to Tito Ortiz. Since a January 2012 victory over Michael Bisping, Sonnen is just 1-4.

Hopefully, you don’t need an introduction to “The Axe Murderer” Wanderlei Silva. The long-time dominating Pride champion made his much anticipated UFC return in 2007. He was clearly past his prime, but put together a decent 4-5 run. His last fight was a great one, as he channeled the Axe Murderer of old and sent Brian Stann into retirement. That was in 2013. The four years since have been marked by drug test issues, a lifetime ban that was later lifted, and an announced fight and cancellation for Rizin. Now at 40 years old, it’s hard to know what Silva has left or what we can expect come fight time (assuming he makes it to the fight).

Why should you care?

There are two reasons to watch and two only - you are an old school fan and you just want to see these guys in there. Or you anticipate something weird happening, and you want to know what it is. If those apply to you, enjoy! If not, this is not for you.