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Bellator NYC recap: Sonnen defeats Silva

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Chael Sonnen (29-15-1) defeated Wanderlei Silva (35-13) by unanimous decision in a light heavyweight grudge bout to headline the Bellator NYC pay-per-view card at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Round-by-round recaps on all the fights on the card right here.

Wanderlei Silva vs. Chael Sonnen live round-by-round coverage

Wanderlei Silva grabs the neck of Chael Sonnen as they grapple during their fight at Bellator NYC.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

This is a grudge match that goes back years. Chael Sonnen told a lot of jokes about the country of Brazil to sell fights and Wanderlei Silva took it personally. Sonnen seems to view it as just promotion but Silva genuinely wants to hurt Sonnen and that’s been his MO for most of his career anyway. Silva hasn’t fought in four years while Sonnen has struggled in recent fights so it will be a test to see what each man has left. Silva is a feared striker while Sonnen relies heavily on his wrestling.

Round 1. Sonnen moves forward and secures the takedown. He lands some punches from inside Silva’s guard. Sonnen adds some elbows. Silva is just defending. Silva finally gets up with two minutes left in the round. Silva drops Sonnen with a right hook. Silva follows to the ground but Sonnen ties him up. Sonnen gets up and gets a takedown. Silva grabs a guillotine choke in the process but has to give it up because he can’t control Sonnen’s body. Sonnen lands some elbows late. 10-9 Sonnen.

Round 2. Sonnen charges in and gets caught with a hard punch. Silva decides to grab a guillotine choke and pull guard. He just holds Sonnen in it and neither man seems too concerned about getting out of that position. Eventually John McCarthy stands them up. Sonnen grabs a double leg takedown. Sonnen lands some punches by the cage. Silva is just covering up again, although he’s not getting caught with much in the process either. 10-9 Sonnen.

Round 3. Sonnen eats a right hook but keeps going and gets the takedown again. This time he’s side control position. He looks for mount but loses it and ends up in half guard. Sonnen looks for a kimura but can’t get it. Sonnen continues to look for that kimura. He can’t get it so he moves into full mount. He then transitions back into side control. He lands a few additional punches as the fight concludes. A frustrated Silva shoves Sonnen off. Sonnen decides not to take the bait and just walks off. 10-8 Sonnen, 30-26 Sonnen.

Winner: Chael Sonnen, unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27).

That wasn’t much of a fight but it did have a few moments. Sonnen’s wrestling obviously was the difference. Both fighters are well past their primes and it showed. Sonnen after the fight tried to lobby for a fight with Fedor Emelianenko and perhaps that will be the next novelty fight for him.

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Neiman Gracie vs. Dave Marfone live round-by-round coverage

A member of the famed Gracie family, Neiman Gracie is a jiu jitsu world champion and is undefeated in MMA competition with four submissions in five wins. Dave Marfone is 5-2 in MMA with most of his wins coming via TKO.

Round 1. Marfone goes for a big power punch. Gracie switches levels and takes him down. Marfone stands back up, and Gracie makes an effort to drag him back down. He can’t do it, but on separation, Gracie lands a powerful right hand. Gracie then lands a nice uppercut and gets a takedown. Gracie looks to get into mount but loses it and Marfone stands up. Marfone punishes Gracie with a hard knee to the body back on the feet. Gracie goes for another takedown, but it is blocked and Marfone lands a punch in the process. Marfone goes for a guillotine choke at the close of the round. 10-9 Gracie.

Round 2. They exchange punches early. For someone with dense muscle mass, Marfone seems in great shape given all the action in the fight thus far. Gracie looks for a takedown. Gracie decides to climb on Marfone’s back from the standing position. Marfone tries to throw him off but ends up on the ground with Gracie controlling him with a body triangle. Gracie gets the rear naked choke and Marfone has to tap.

Winner: Neiman Gracie, submission, round 2.

Neiman Gracie turned in a very good performance there. His striking looked pretty good and his ground game was obviously very well developed. Marfone put up a good fight, but Gracie proved to be too much in the end.

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Fedor Emelianenko vs. Matt Mitrione live round-by-round coverage

Fedor Emelianenko is tended to by the referee after being stopped by Matt Mitrione during the first round of the fight at Bellator NYC.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

Fedor Emelianenko is considered by most to be the best heavyweight MMA fighter of all time. The longtime Pride heavyweight champion is excellent at exploiting opponents’ weaknesses and has great mettle and power. He is also well known for his stoic demeanor. Matt Mitrione is a former NFL player who has notable athleticism and power of his own. It’s a fight that most are predicting to end via knockout.

Round 1. Fedor moves forward closely, while Mitrione bounces around from side to side. The crowd, which cheered Fedor heavily coming out, chants “USA.” Fedor lands a leg kick. The crowd begins to chant for Fedor. Mitrione and Fedor land punches simultaneously, and both are knocked backward to the ground by the force. Mitrione is in much better shape, and he pushes forward and lands additional punches on the ground until Fedor is out cold.

Winner: Matt Mitrione, KO, round 1.

After the fight, Matt Mitrione called for respect for Fedor and asked for people to support the family of deceased MMA fighter Tim Hague.

With two fighters that have such power, there’s little margin for error. Mitrione caught Fedor harder than Fedor caught him, and that was it. Fedor’s legacy is secure, but he has been hurt plenty of times in recent years. The charismatic Mitrione will always have this win over Fedor to look back on when it comes to his legacy as a professional fighter.

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Michael Chandler vs. Brent Primus live round-by-round coverage

Brent Primus lands a kick against Michael Chandler during their lightweight title fight at Bellator NYC.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

This fight is for the Bellator lightweight title. Michael Chandler is one of Bellator’s top fighters and has been for years. He has fought some of the best lightweights in the world and run up a 16-3 record with his wrestling background and powerful striking. Brent Primus is 7-0 as a pro and has the biggest opportunity of his career with this fight.

Round 1. Primus throws a number of kicks early, both low and high. He knocks an off-balance Chandler off his feet with a kick and then lunges in with a flying knee. Primus lands a few more hard low kicks and Chandler’s ankle appears in real trouble. Chandler is trying to act like he’s fine, but it is clearly not the case. Chandler lands a big punch and tries to get a finish, but Primus is fine. They then call in the doctor and that may be it. The fight is stopped.

Winner: Brent Primus, TKO, round 1.

That was an unfortunate situation for Michael Chandler. He wanted to continue but his ankle was badly injured and the decision to stop the fight was clearly correct. Brent Primus looked great with his kicks and picked up a huge upset. Chandler wants a rematch and he’s likely to get one. A rough evening continues for Bellator with unfortunate fight results and some underwhelming fights.

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Aaron Pico vs. Zach Freeman live round-by-round coverage

Zach Freeman, right, grapples with Aaron Pico before securing a choke during the bout at Bellator NYC.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

Aaron Pico, 20, is considered a prodigy in the sport. An Olympic-caliber wrestler and Golden Gloves boxer, he has a tremendous tool set and has drawn raves from those around him. He makes his MMA debut on pay-per-view in Madison Square Garden against an 8-2 opponent, a testament to what’s hoped for from him. Zach Freeman has that nice record but hasn’t fought against a high level of competition.

Round 1. Pico moves in and eats a knee to the head as he closes distance. He then gets dropped by an uppercut. Freeman attacks the neck with a guillotine choke that he transitions to a D’Arce choke and gets the submission.

Winner: Zach Freeman, submission, round 1.

That has to be a hugely disappointing setback for Bellator. They invested big in Aaron Pico and got a tremendous amount of press for his debut. Pico will have plenty of time to still develop as a fighter, but there’s only once chance to make a first impression and that won’t help his hopes to become a superstar fighter.

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Slide show: Photos from Bellator NYC

Ryan Bader, right, goes on the offensive against Phil Davis during their light-heavyweight title fight at Bellator NYC. To see more images, click on the photo above.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

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Douglas Lima vs. Lorenz Larkin live round-by-round coverage

Douglas Lima, top, goes on the offensive agianst Lorenz Larkin during their welterweight title fight at Bellator NYC.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

Douglas Lima is defending the Bellator welterweight title in this bout. He has fought in Bellator since 2011 and is 7-1 with six knockouts in his last eight fights. He is a well-rounded fighter but has relied heavily on his striking in recent fights. Lorenz Larkin is a striking specialist. He looked particularly good in his final UFC fights, going 4-1 in his last five. He fights for the Bellator title in his first Bellator fight, just like Ryan Bader did in the previous fight.

Round 1. The fighters are tentative early in the feeling-out process. Both men rely more on their kicks than anything else for early offense. Lima is landing a little bit more and has a lot of power in his kicks. Lima moves in with a couple of punches and clinches up against the cage at the close of the round. 10-9 Lima.

Round 2. Lima opens with a body kick and then a leg kick. Larkin utilizes a nice combination punctuated by a hard low kick. Lima is bleeding from the nose. Larkin lands a few big punches, but he gets dropped as he comes in with a counterpunch from Lima. Lima lands a series of punches on the ground looking to finish. Larkin is able to recover and he stands back up. Lima connects with a couple of big punches by the cage, but Larkin answers back with a hard looping punch of his own. 10-9 Lima.

Round 3. Lima opens the third with a few kicks. That’s usually one of Larkin’s best weapons, but Lima is getting the best of that game and it’s been a big difference in this fight. As the round progresses, neither man is landing basically anything of consequence. Lima lands a couple of punches late. 10-9 Lima.

Round 4. Very little is happening in the fourth. Lima lands a nice leg kick early and a straight punch later. Larkin has great movement, but he is struggling to connect with much. Larkin backs Lima up with some punches and looks to land something big, but he is off balance and Lima gets a takedown. Larkin stands up quickly and the round comes to a close. 10-9 Lima.

Round 5. Larkin lands a back kick to the body. Lima uses a looping left hand. Larkin answers with a heavy low kick. Larkin lands a nice jab and then ducks out of the way of two punches. Lima catches a head kick, but Larkin lands a knee anyway and backs away. Larkin nails Lima with a big body kick late. 10-9 Larkin, 49-46 Lima.

Winner: Douglas Lima, unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47, 48-47).

That was a second straight less-than-scintillating fight, but Lima got the better of a dangerous opponent at his opponent’s game. Lima will fight Rory MacDonald next, a big chance for Lima to be perceived as one of the best in his weight class. For Larkin, it’s a major setback. Larkin has been streaky throughout his career, varying wildly in terms of the quality of his performances. He got a big contract after looking great at the end of his UFC run, but he didn’t seem to justify that in his Bellator debut.

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Phil Davis vs. Ryan Bader live round-by-round coverage

Phil Davis and Ryan Bader are two of the best light heavyweights in the world. Davis is the defending Bellator champion, an excellent wrestler with a strong submission game to boot. Bader is another solid wrestler with tremendous knockout power. Davis and Bader fought once before in the UFC with Bader picking up a controversial split-decision win.

Round 1. They come out more aggressively than they did in their earlier fight, with each looking to establish a jab. Davis clinches and looks for a takedown briefly but then gives it up. Davis lands a couple of heavy leg kicks. He goes for a takedown, but it is defended. The crowd boos the action, which is actually more eventful than their first contest. Bader is mostly circling out while Davis comes in and presses the action. They exchange leg kicks. 10-9 Davis.

Round 2. The action continues to be slow. Davis throws a couple of high kicks including one that flies over the head of a ducking Bader. Davis briefly looks for a takedown again and it is stuffed again. They trade jabs. Bader is really having trouble connecting with Davis, who is very good defensively. Davis throws another of those head kicks but has his takedown blocked yet again. Bader lands a nice right hook moving in. He blocks another takedown attempt. 10-9 Davis.

Round 3. Davis lands a nice body kick. Bader answers with a leg kick. Davis connects with a hard superman punch and then follows with another punch behind it. That may have been the most effective sequence of the fight. Bader lands a nice low kick. Bader gets a takedown in the final 20 seconds of the fight, but Davis rolls into top position and lands one elbow late. 10-9 Davis.

Round 4. Bader has become more aggressive as the fight has progressed. Davis was pushing the action in the early rounds, but Bader is moving forward more than he used to. It isn’t necessarily leading to more effective offensive, however. Bader connects with a solid looping right hand, one of his best shots of the fight. They exchange body kicks as the crowd boos loudly. Bader lands a quality hook late. 10-9 Bader.

Round 5. Bader lands a few jabs early. Davis lands a nice right hand and then another moments later. Bader shakes his head to indicate it didn’t connect. Another head kick attempt sails over Bader’s head. If Davis ever connects with one of those it could be bad news. Bader gets a takedown at the midpoint of the round, but Davis quickly gets back up. Bader cracks Davis with a punch up the middle. Bader goes for a takedown, but it is defended.10-9 Davis, 49-46 Davis.

Winner: Ryan Bader, split decision (49-46, 47-48, 49-46).

Bader captures the Bellator light-heavyweight title in his promotional debut. It certainly wasn’t the sort of fight that will generate a lot of excitement in either fighter moving forward, but Bader has chased a big title win his entire career. For Davis, it’s a disappointing setback. He has fought Bader twice. Both fights were very close, and he came up short on the judges’ scorecards via split decision twice.

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James Gallagher vs. Chinzo Machida live round-by-round coverage

James Gallagher applies the fight-ending rear naked choke against Chinzo Machida at Bellator NYC.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

James Gallagher is a prospect Bellator has high hopes for. The undefeated Irish fighter is 6-0 at just 20 years old and has a very good ground game. Chinzo Machida is the older brother of former UFC light-heavyweight champion Lyoto Machida and at 40 years old is twice the age of Gallagher. He is a striker by trade.

Round 1. Gallagher looks to close distance. He shoots in for a takedown but doesn’t come close. He lands a punch and then gets a takedown from much shorter distance moments later. Gallagher quickly passes into side control and then full guard. Gallagher takes the back and locks in a body triangle. He cuts Machida with a punch while looking to set up a rear naked choke. Gallagher gets the choke and Machida has to tap. The crowd explodes. Gallagher goes out into the crowd to celebrate with what is presumably his family.

Winner: James Gallagher, submission, round 1.

It’s easy to understand what Bellator sees in Gallagher after that performance. It’s not just that he won impressively but the way he carried himself from the moment he came out. He strutted around, played to the crowd and conducted himself like he’s a big deal. That sort of self presentation goes a long way in MMA, as evidenced by Gallagher’s countryman Conor McGregor.

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Heather Hardy vs. Alice Yauger live round-by-round coverage

Heather Hardy, right, lands an overhand right against Alice Yauger during Bellator NYC.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

Heather Hardy is an undefeated boxing champion who is hoping to make a successful transition into MMA like former UFC women’s bantamweight champion Holly Holm. Hardy makes her MMA debut in her native New York against 4-5 opponent Alice Yauger.

Round 1. Yauger clinches early. The fighters exchange knees and Hardy separates. Hardy lands a nice straight right hand. Hardy follows with a heavy overhand right. Yauger seems confident in her striking and she is firing back. Yauger clinches again and throws a series of knees to the body. Yauger connects with a few punches and a knee to the body. Yauger keeps attacking the body with the knees. 10-9 Yauger.

Round 2. Yauger immediately clinches and looks for a takedown. Hardy defends successfully. Hardy lands a couple of nice combinations. They’re both connecting with power punches in the second and really opening up. Hardy is having a better round due to keeping the fight at range and avoiding Yauger’s body attacks. 10-9 Hardy.

Round 3. Hardy drops Yauger with a right hand early. Yauger isn’t hurt and stands back up. Yauger clinches and lands a few more of those knees. Hardy keeps pushing forward and mixes in a number of kicks with her punches. Yauger clinches and lands a couple more of those knees. She should never let those clinches go; that’s her best spot for sure. Hardy takes an accidental head butt and is bleeding really badly from above the eye. She’s lucky the cut didn’t come earlier in the fight. Yauger charges in but gets countered with heavy punches. Hardy hurts Yauger and then drops her. Hardy opens up by the cage and lands some hard punches late. The fight is stopped with just 13 seconds left.

Winner: Heather Hardy, TKO, round 3.

Hardy struggled a little bit early, but she capitalized on Yauger’s aggressiveness late and got the finish. At 35, it seems unlikely she will become a championship-level fighter in MMA, but she connected well with the crowd and delivered an entertaining performance.

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Ryan Couture picks up decision over Haim Gozali

Ryan Couture grapples with Haim Gozali during their bout at Bellator NYC.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

Ryan Couture has always had a tough time of it in MMA as the son of the legendary Randy Couture. Ryan Couture isn’t the caliber of fighter that his father was, but he has built a respectable career of his own and improved to 11-5 against Haim Gozali in the final nontelevised bout of Bellator NYC. Couture utilized clinch work and takedowns to win the unanimous decision (30-26, 30-27, 30-27). The Israeli competitor Gozali was popular in his own right, training out of New York under Renzo Gracie, but dropped to 7-4 after the evening’s defeat.

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Bradley Desir impressive in victory over Nate Grebb

Former Marine Bradley Desir was dominant against Nate Grebb, picking up a TKO victory in the first round. Desir repeatedly caught Grebb with solid strikes, finally dropping him with a punch and landing additional strikes on the ground until the fight was called off. Desir improves to 10-5, while Grebb falls to 3-2.

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Anthony Giacchina bests Jerome Mickle

In an entertaining scrap, Anthony Giacchina’s ground game proved too much for Jerome Mickle. Mickle rocked Giacchina with punches a few times on the feet, but Giacchina took over with takedowns in the second and third rounds. In the third, Giacchina locked up a rear naked choke for the submission. The popular New Yorker Giacchina improved to 2-1, while Mickle fell to 2-2.

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Matt Rizzo picks up another submission win, over Sergio da Silva

Matt Rizzo picked up the eighth submission of his career over Sergio da Silva to improve to 10-2 in professional MMA competition. Rizzo made no secret of his desire to get the fight to the ground and controlled the fight when it hit the mat. Late in the third round, Rizzo locked up an arm triangle choke for the submission. Da Silva falls to 6-9 and lost via submission for the first time.

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Hugh McKenna tops John Salgado in Bellator NYC opener

Hugh McKenna picked up the first win of his professional MMA career in the opener of the Bellator NYC event from Madison Square Garden. Once McKenna took John Salgado to the ground, it was all one-way action. McKenna secured mount and then locked in a kimura for the submission. McKenna improves to 1-1, while Salgado falls to 4-8-1 after his sixth straight loss.

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Lorenz Larkin’s switch to Bellator comes with a title fight

Lorenz Larkin, left, takes a punch from Albert Tumenov during a UFC 195 bout on Jan. 2, 2016.
(John Locher / Associated Press)

Lorenz Larkin of Riverside received a substantial bonus for leaving the UFC and joining Bellator: a title shot versus champion Douglas Lima at Madison Square Garden on June 24.

Larkin (18-5) was 4-1 in his final five fights in the UFC, including a first-round technical knockout of Neil Magny on the Aug. 20 UFC 202 card headlined by the Conor McGregor-Nate Diaz rematch.

That impressive victory came as his contract expired and intensified the bidding for the 30-year-old. Bellator landed him this month with a multifight deal.

Larkin fought for Bellator Chief Executive Scott Coker in the now-defunct Strikeforce organization, claiming a 2012 victory over former UFC welterweight champion Robbie Lawler.

Lima, 29, won the belt in November with a third-round knockout of Andrey Koreshkov in Israel and defeated England’s Paul Daley by decision in July in London.

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While veterans headline Bellator NYC, some Southland fighters will get a chance to shine

Chael Sonnen will take on Wanderlei Silva at Bellator NYC on Saturday night.
(Gregory Payan / Associated Press)

Scott Coker is a wise enough promoter to know that Bellator MMA can cash in by presenting some of the final work of veteran fighters such as Fedor Emelianenko, Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva.

Yet the man who found a slew of young fighters who ultimately became UFC champions also understands that the future must be cultivated.

That’s why he has placed Southland products Lorenz Larkin and Aaron Pico on the first pay-per-view broadcast he has supervised for the Viacom-owned company, a card to be staged at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.

They are both on the undercard of Bellator NYC, with Sonnen versus Silva as the main event.

“These are the fights the hard-core fans want to see,” he said of Riverside’s Larkin, who will be making his Bellator debut against welterweight champion Douglas Lima, and Whittier lightweight Pico, who will be making his much-hyped pro debut against Zach Freeman.

“Yes, Fedor, Chael and Wanderlei will be watched, but the talk online is Lorenz-Lima and Aaron’s debut.”

With good reason.

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