Preview: Bellator NYC

Photo credit: Wrestling Observer Newsletter By: Buju

In just two days Bellator will hold its biggest card to date at the Madison Square Garden in New York City. The card is full from top to bottom with MMA legends and homegrown Bellator talent alike...

In the preliminary main event (prelims air at 8:00 ET on Spike), former UFC Light Heavyweight contenders Phil Davis and Ryan Bader square off for Davis' Bellator Light Heavyweight Championship. It's Davis' fifth fight since joining the organization, and it will be his first title defense. He won the championship from Liam McGeary in November.

Ryan Bader will be making his Bellator debut, with his last fight being a victory over Antonio Rogerio Nogueira at UFC São Paulo in November of 2016. Bader's only loss in his last 8 bouts was via knockout against Anthony Johnson. "Darth" also boasts a split decision victory over his Bellator opponent in August of 2014..

In the main card opener, MMA's hottest prospect Aaron Pico will make his debut. Pico was a gold medalist in Freestyle Wrestling at the Cadet World Championships in 2013 and a silver and bronze medalist in the 2014 & 2015 Junior World Championships respectively. He is also a Junior Golden Gloves national champion in boxing, and the California state and Golden Cup European Pankration Champion. ESPN has called him "the greatest prospect in MMA history."

The PPV main card also features Bellator Lightweight champion and arguably the greatest fighter in the organizations history, Michael Chandler, defending against undefeated Brent Primus.

The middle fight of the main card features Welterweight champion Douglas Lima defending against Lorenz Larkin, who is fighting for the first time since leaving the UFC. Lima is 7-1 in his last 8, with his only loss being to Andrey Koreshkov which he later avenged by beating him a year and a half later.

In the co-main event of the evening, "The Last Emporer" Fedor Emelianenko will fight in America for the first time since 2011 against former UFC heavyweight Matt Mitrione. Fedor has come out victorious in his last 5, although his last win was a highly controversial split decision with Fabio Maldonado. Mitrione won his first two Bellator bouts (against Carl Seumanutafa and Oli Thompson), but dropped his last two UFC fights against Travis Browne and Ben Rothwell. Emelianenko and Mitrione were supposed to face off in February, but Mitrione was forced to pull out the day of due to kidney stones.

The top billing of Bellator's big night goes to former UFC title challenger and trash talking legend "The American Gangster" Chael Sonnen taking on PRIDE legend "The Axe Murderer" Wanderlei Silva.

Sonnen is just 1-4 in his last five, albeit two of those being to Jon Jones and a pre-Weidman Anderson Silva. His last fight was a submission loss to Tito Ortiz at Bellator 170 after a 3.5 year layoff.

Wanderlei is making his return to the cage for the first time since March of 2013, which was a victory over Brian Stann. Silva is 3-2 in his last five, but just 4-5 since December 2007.

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