WATCH: SBG's James Gallagher delivers in Bellator New York with first round stoppage of Machida
The Irishman won the biggest fight of his career so far, while Matt Mitrione emerged triumphant from a stunning double-knockdown
History was made on Saturday evening as Bellator MMA headed to Madison Square Garden for the first time for Bellator 180 and their Bellator NYC pay-per-view event.
The card was stacked with big names from top to bottom and the evening featured several superb performances and memorable moments that will live long in the memory.
In the main event, Chael Sonnen took on Wanderlei Silva in a grudge match that was years in the making.
The rivalry between the two stretched back as far as 2011 and the tension between the two fighters was at boiling point when they entered the Bellator cage on Saturday evening. Both Sonnen and Silva were arguably both well past their prime, but the fans treated them like superstars and gave them rousing receptions as they entered the infamous arena.
Sonnen started the fight well and after just thirty seconds he was able to secure a takedown on the Brazilian. From there, Sonnen worked well and landed some nice shots on Silva, but with two minutes remaining in the round, Silva worked his way back to his feet. Both men then started loading up on their shots and Silva landed with a big right hand to knock Sonnen down to the mat. Silva swarmed, but Sonnen covered up well as he ran into his guard. Before the round was out, Sonnen reversed the position to put Silva on his back to end the round in top position.
Sonnen worked his way into full mount, but even then, he never looked like finishing the fight.
The second round began like the first with both men rushing out the gate and throwing bombs. Yet again, Silva beat Sonnen to the punch and he landed a big right hand knocking him down to the mat. Silva then attempted to lock in a guillotine submission, but he was never able to fully lock it in and after two minutes of stalemate, referee John McCarthy eventually got both men back to their feet. Sonnen then hit yet another takedown to see out the round in top position inside the guard of Silva.
The final round then began and it took Sonnen seconds to secure the takedown. Sonnen looked for submissions, but for the most part, he accepted the positional control and Silva simply get up off his back. Withone minute remaining, Sonnen worked his way into full mount, but even then, he never looked like finishing the fight.
The bout ended with it going to the scorecards and the judges didn’t get it wrong. Sonnen took the cards unanimously 30-26, 30-27, 30-27 and “The Bad Guy” had his first win since 2013.
In the co-main event, one of the greatest mixed martial artists of all time, Fedor Emelianenko, made his Bellator MMA debut against the former UFC man, Matt Mitrione. Like Sonnen and Silva, the Russian’s best days have almost certainly been and gone and this may just have been his final bow.
The Garden erupted at the sight of the Russian out cold.
Both men started tentatively and used the opening minute to feel each other out. Just when the crowd were beginning to get a little restless, chaos ensued. Both men threw big overhand rights at almost exactly the same time and they both connected flush. Fedor and Mitrione both dropped to the mat, but one man rose much faster than the other and it was the American. Mitrione swarmed the still stunned Fedor and after hitting him with a few sharp uppercuts, he finished Fedor with a massive right hook to knock him out clean.
The Garden erupted at the sight of the Russian out cold on the mat and Mitrione soaked in the atmosphere by walking around the cage with his hands aloft. Fedor took his time to rise as the medical team treated him, but after a few minutes, he finally rose to his feet with his head bowed.
“The Last Emperor” may have just been defeated for the last time.
James Gallagher raises the roof at MSG (50 minute mark for Gallagher fight)
James Gallagher, the man from the small town of Strabane, Northern Ireland, featured on the Bellator 180 portion of the fight card as he took on Chinzo Machida.
Gallagher, 20, was half the age of the Brazilian, but he dominated the contest from the opening bell and took Machida down to the mat with just a minute on the clock. From there, Gallagher made it look easy as he landed elbows in Machida’s guard before taking his back with barely a minute gone.
The young man from the small town of Strabane fulfilled a dream on the biggest stage of all
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Gallagher then took his time to sink in the rear-naked choke and after a brief struggle, he locked it in. Machida had nowhere to go and he tapped out to give Gallagher the win. The SBG Ireland man celebrated on the top of the cage with the Irish tricolour as the crowd all around the arena rose to their feet to show him some love.
The young man from the small town of Strabane fulfilled a dream on the biggest stage of all at Madison Square Garden. No doubt a lot more to come from him.
Elsewhere on the card...
There were three Bellator titles on the line and two new champions were crowned. Douglas Lima retained his welterweight title against Lorenz Larkin, but Michael Chandler was forced to retire during his fight with Brent Primus due to an ankle injury and Primus was crowned the new Bellator lightweight champion. Before the main card got underway, Ryan Bader defeated Phil Davis to capture the Bellator light heavyweight title.
Bellator NYC Full Results
Chael Sonnen def. Wanderlei Silva via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Matt Mitrione def. Fedor Emelianenko via knockout (punches), Round 1, 1:14
Brent Primus def. Michael Chandler via TKO (injury), Round 1, 2:22 – to win lightweight title
Zach Freeman def. Aaron Pico via submission (D’Arce choke), Round 1, 0:24
Douglas Lima def. Lorenz Larkin via unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47, 48-47) – to retain welterweight title
Bellator 180 Results
Ryan Bader def. Phil Davis via split decision (49-46, 47-48, 49-46) – to win light heavyweight title
James Gallagher def. Chinzo Machida via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 1, 2:22
Heather Hardy def. Alice Yauger via TKO (punches), Round 3, 4:47
Bellator NYC Preliminary Bouts
Neiman Gracie def. Dave Marfone via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 2, 2:27
Ryan Couture def. Haim Gozali via unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27)
Bradley Desir def. Nate Grebb via knockout (punch), Round 1, 2:54
Anthony Giacchina def. Jerome Mickle via submission (rear-naked choke), Round 3, 3:40
Matt Rizzo def. Sergio da Silva via submission (arm-triangle choke), Round 3, 3:48
Hugh McKenna def. John Salgado via submission (kimura), Round 1, 4:06