Bellator is stepping up to Madison Square Garden and back onto pay-per-view.
The mixed martial arts promotion will stage a stacked card in New York City on June 24, The Associated Press has learned.
Bellator 180 will be headlined by Chael Sonnen’s long-awaited rivalry bout with Wanderlei Silva. Additional fights will be announced soon for several of the promotion’s top talents, including a handful of its newly-signed free agents.
Bellator will broadcast on pay-per-view for only the second time in promotional history, signaling another step in its growth as a rival for the industry-leading UFC. Bellator staged its only previous pay-per-view event in May 2014, shortly before CEO Scott Coker took over the promotion.
“We always said that when we come to New York, we’ll bring the biggest and the best fight card we’ve ever had in the history of this company,” Coker told the AP. “We’re putting it together, and our roster is robust enough that we feel like it’s time to get into the pay-per-view business, so here we go.”
After New York lifted its long-standing restrictions on the sport last year, the UFC debuted at Madison Square Garden in November with Conor McGregor headlining the star-stacked UFC 205.
Bellator 180 will feature the Viacom-owned promotion’s formula of big-name veteran fighters topping a card to draw fans for a showcase of elite up-and-coming talent. Sonnen and Silva likely are in the final years of their careers, but they’re still two of the best-known names in MMA.
Bellator also intends to debut a portion of its latest crop of free-agent signees in New York, although the bouts haven’t been finalized. The promotion confirmed Monday that it has signed Ryan Bader, the longtime UFC light heavyweight title contender.
Coker has built Bellator around regular fight shows on Viacom’s Spike TV, its flagship cable station. Even with this leap into the more lucrative world of pay-per-view fights, Coker doesn’t intend to stage regular pay-per-view shows…