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Bellator NYC: Wanderlei Silva believes he saw 'fear' in Chael Sonnen's eyes in scuffle

Silva believes he 'scared' Sonnen at the Bellator 180 pre-fight press conference.

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Wanderlei Silva and Chael Sonnen will look to settle the score in the main event of Bellator 180 after almost four years of animosity.

The MMA veterans were scheduled to lock horns under the UFC banner in 2014, but that fight fell through due to a slew of drug testing controversies (Silva evaded a random drug test, and Sonnen failed his).

On the eve of their light heavyweight bout at Bellator NYC, 'The Axe Murderer' pushed Sonnen at the pre-fight presser and believes he saw fear in his opponent's eyes.

“I saw him scared,” Silva told MMA Junkie shortly after the minor altercation. “The time is going to come. Like my dad always says, ‘You can’t play with a man.’ His time is going to come.”

Sonnen, though, told Ariel Helwani that he expected Silva to push him and brushed the incident off as something typical of Silva's behavior.

The two rivals got physical on the set of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil in 2013 and Silva says his aggression at the press conference was payback for back then.

“He did that before in Brazil,” Silva said. “He did it first. I did it as payback. He took me down in Brazil. I haven’t taken him down yet, but in the fight I’ll give it back to him.”

Silva, the former PRIDE middleweight champion, believes Sonnen is a 'chicken' and expects to finish 'The American Gangster' in tonight's main event.

“He talks so much,” Silva said. “Everyone knows he’s a chicken. He feels my hands. I know this fight is going to finish. … I know he’s scared. I look at the fear in your eyes. Now you can’t run. When the guys lock the cage I’m going to pay you back.”

Bellator 180, which also features a co-headlining heavyweight bout between Fedor Emelianenko and Matt Mitrione, takes place later tonight, June 24, at Madison Square Garden in New York City.