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Exclusive Interview: Bellator NYC Headliner Chael Sonnen

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Next weekend, June 24th, Bellator MMA will try their hand once more at hosting a Pay-Per-View event, after the one and only attempt to do so fell apart in November of 2013. The aptly named Bellator NYC will be the promotion’s first trip to the “Big Apple” and takes place at the world’s most famous fight venue, Madison Square Garden.

Bellator’s inaugural PPV event boasts a star-studded lineup with more than enough strength to justify the $49.95 (HD) price tag. The main card has 2 title fights as well as a co-headliner between UFC veteran Matt Mitrione and Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko; a Pride FC legend, who is considered by many to be the greatest heavyweight fighter of all time.

A long overdue grudge match closes the show, with 3-time UFC title challenger, Chael “The West Linn Gangster” Sonnen taking on his arch-rival, who – along with Fedor, is another Pride legend, Wanderlei “The Axe Murderer” Silva.

Despite a hectic schedule consisting of fight preparation, child-rearing, and full-time commitments to ESPN and to his own podcast (“You’re Welcome”) Chael Sonnen took a few moments to speak with MMA Latest News about his headlining bout, Bellator’s recent acquisition of commentators Mike Goldberg and Mauro Ranallo, and the recent announcement of a boxing match between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor.

“I think it’s best if we stay away from each other until the referee says go,” Chael told MMA Latest News in reference to Wanderlei Silva. “It really is best just to keep us apart. If a guy threatens you, I gotta (sic) take him at his word; particularly since he’s attacked me, TWICE, in the past.”

HEAR THE FULL AUDIO INTERVIEW

Listen to “Exclusive: Chael Sonnen speaks ahead of Bellator NYC” on Spreaker.

This revelation is based on the history of threats and violent encounters between the two middleweight fighters; the most notorious being an altercation on the set of The Ultimate Fighter Brazil.

Last week, Bellator President Scott Coker announced that the organization signed the two most coveted play-by-play commentators in all of MMA, exiled UFC broadcaster Mike Goldberg and yet another Pride FC legend, Mauro Ranallo. Later in the Bellator media conference call, Coker also stated that retired UFC fighter Brendan Schaub, as well as UFC and Pride veteran Josh Thompson, would join Chael Sonnen’s color commentary team.

With a heavy roster of commentators, Chael agreed that plans for their implementation is unclear. One can assume that Bellator will continue the current trend of running 3 man teams. “I think you’re exactly right (about the 3-man commentary team).” Sonnen said, “But I have no idea how that’s going to work. I was little but curious about that too.”

No conversation with Chael Sonnen is complete without some Chael P wisdom, so the discussion ended on this gem of a lesson in marketing one’s brand:

“People say this is a martial art, and maybe that’s true, but any form of art is a form of expression. There’s no better way we can express ourselves than by speaking. It’s literally what separates the humans from the animals.”

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Watch: Bellator 185 Prelims

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Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Complete Bellator 185: Mousasi vs. Shlemenko Fight Card:

Middleweight Main Event: Gegard Mousasi (42-6-2) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (56-9, 1 NC)

Welterweight Feature Bout: Neiman Gracie (6-0) vs. Zak Bucia (18-8)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Heather Hardy (1-0) vs. Kristina Williams (Debut)

Lightweight Feature Bout: Ryan Quinn (13-7) vs. Marcus Surin (4-0)

Women’s Flyweight Feature Bout: Ana Julaton (2-2) vs. Lisa Blaine (1-0)

Preliminary Card:

Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Jordan Young (6-0) vs. Alec Hooben (5-3)

Middleweight Preliminary Bout: Costello van Steenis (8-1) vs. Steve Skrzat (8-9)

Welterweight Preliminary Bout: Vinicius de Jesus (5-1) vs. Joaquin Buckley (7-1)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: John Beneduce (2-1) vs. Dean Hancock (2-1)

Featherweight Preliminary Bout: Timothy Wheeler (1-4) vs. Pete Rogers (2-4)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Don Shainis (3-1) vs. Matthew Denning (5-6)

150 lb. Catchweight Preliminary Bout: Frank Sforza (6-0) vs. Vovka Clay (3-2)

Lightweight Preliminary Bout: Kevin Carrier (Pro Debut) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (Pro Debut)

Flyweight Preliminary Bout: John Lopez

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*Watch* Bellator 185 Weigh in: Live Stream, Results

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Watch the live weigh-ins for Bellator 185 here.

Gegard Mousasi takes on Alexander Slemenko live this Friday night October 20th at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville CT. This is the first appearance for Mousasi in the Bellator cage as he looks to secure a title shot with a win over the very tough former Bellator champion Slemenko. Joining these men of the main card will be a pair of welterweights as Neiman Gracie from the famous Gracie BJJ family takes on Zak Bucia in the co-main event.

Full Weigh-in Results: (Updated in real time)

Main Card:

Gegard Mousasi (185) vs. Alexander Shlemenko (186)
Neiman Gracie (170.5) vs. Zak Bucia (170)
Heather Hardy (126) vs. Kristina Williams (126)
Ryan Quinn (155.5) vs. Marcus Surin (155)
Ana Julaton (125.5) vs. Lisa Blaine (122)

Preliminary Card:

Jordan Young (200) vs. Alec Hooben (194)
Costello van Steenis (185) vs. Steve Skrzat (186)
Vinicius de Jesus (170) vs. Joaquin Buckley (171)
John Beneduce (154.5) vs. Dean Hancock (155)
Timothy Wheeler (144) vs. Pete Rogers (144)
Don Shainis (150) vs. Matthew Denning (149)
Frank Sforza (149) vs. Vovka Clay (150)
Kevin Carrier (156) vs. Jose Antonio Perez (153)
John Lopez (126) vs. Billy Giovanella (125)

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Bellator 185 Fight to Watch: Heather Hardy vs. Kristina Williams

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Heather Hardy will compete in MMA for the second time at Bellator 185 on Friday night, as she faces Kristina Williams in a strawweight contest. The fight takes place on the main card at the Mohican Sun Arena in Connecticut.

Potentially, what Bellator have in Heather ‘The Heat’ Hardy is a major draw that they can build their 125 pound division around. While relatively new to the organisation she is fast becoming one of the more popular names on the roster. Her career is in the early stages, but many have already started to draw comparisons with former boxer turned MMA star, Holly Holm. Holm’s UFC success partly inspired the native New Yorker to make the switch from boxing.

Hardy is already an established world champion in the land of the ‘sweet science’, holding a 21 fight undefeated professional record. She made her MMA debut in June this year with a victory over Alice Yauger, at Bellator 180. At 35, Hardy is a late starter in the sport, but proved at Madison Square Garden against the credible Yauger that she has a bright future.

Hardy’s first outing in the cage was disciplined and composed. Despite a slow start in round one, Hardy grew in confidence as the fight progressed and her cardio never faltered. She mixed in plenty of kicks that complimented her boxing and looked at ease in the clinch, even defending a couple of takedown attempts in the process.

Despite looking on course for a decision win, Hardy forced the TKO stoppage with just thirteen seconds remaining in round three. Even a large cut that required seven stitches from an accidental head clash could not deny her victory.

Hardy was fighting an experienced professional, competing for the tenth time in MMA, which makes the win over Yauger more impressive. However, her upcoming opponent Kristina Williams will be making her professional debut.

There is little known about Williams except that she is 3-0 at amateur level. One of those wins came by way of submission so there may well be a threat to Hardy if the fight goes to the ground. More importantly for Williams is how she copes on the big stage against a popular opponent, who is more familiar competing in high pressure combat situations. If Williams can produce an upset it will be a huge boost in her young career.

But in all honesty, this fight is about Hardy. It’s about getting the win and gaining valuable experience. The boxing career is on hold while MMA takes centre stage. Beating Williams will mean she likely continues fighting inside a cage rather than a boxing ring.

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