Yesterday afternoon, we learned that Bellator MMA will be heading to New York City’s hallowed Madison Square Garden on June 24. The ever-growing promotion will do so with Bellator 180, a pay-per-view card that will be headlined by a long-awaited light heavyweight showdown between three-time UFC title challenger Chael Sonnen and Pride legend Wanderlei Silva.
Less than 24 hours removed from the announcement of this Bellator 180 main event, the promotion has now announced the card’s co-main event. This co-main event will pit heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko – arguably the greatest fighter of all time – against supremely athletic UFC veteran Matt Mitrione.
Fedor and Mitrione were originally supposed to meet back on February 18, in the main event of Bellator 172. Unfortunately, this planned heavyweight showdown was nixed on the very day it was supposed to happen as Mitrione was forced off the card by a bout of kidney stones. The announcement of this Fedor-Mitrione co-main event is contrary to recent reports that Bellator had begun considering Cheick Kongo, Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Joey Beltran as possible opponents for Fedor.
Emelianenko will enter this rescheduled bout with Mitrione having scored an extremely controversial decision win over beefed-up light heavyweight journeyman Fabio Maldonado in his last fight. Prior to this controversy-ridden fight, he pounded out an outmatched Jaideep Singh in his return from a long hiatus. The Russian legend is currently 36-4-1 overall.
Mitrione, meanwhile, sits at 11-5 in sum. He has gone 2-o in the Bellator cage since joining the organization in early 2016, defeating Carl Seumanutafa in his debut, and more recently, Oli Thompson.
Bellator 180 will mark the promotion’s debut in The Big Apple, and will go down as just the second pay-per-view card in its long and exciting history. The first was Bellator 120, which went down in 2014, and was headlined by a light heavyweight scrap between Quinton “Rampage” Jackson and Muhammed “King Mo” Lawal.
Who do you think wins this Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione showdown? Sound off, PENN Nation!
This article first appeared on BJPenn.com on 3/21/2017.