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Bellator bringing big names to pay-per-view return

Bellator MMA is assembling quite a list of names for its return to pay-per-view.

A pair of bouts were unveiled Monday as part of Bellator 180 on June 24 at Madison Square Garden, which will mark the organization’s second PPV card and first since 2014.

Longtime rivals Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva will fight in the main event of the card. A heavyweight bout between Matt Mitrione and Fedor Emelianenko has also been rescheduled as part of the lineup.

“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,” Bellator CEO Scott Coker told the Associated Press, which first reported the story. “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.”

Silva and Sonnen have engaged in a long-running feud going back to their UFC days when they came to blows on the set of the Brazilian edition of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

A fight was scheduled between them never materialized after both were flagged for violations of the UFC’s anti-doping policy.

Sonnen retired, only to return to action in January with a loss to Tito Ortiz in his Bellator debut.

Silva has not competed since 2013. He received a lifetime ban from the Nevada Athletic Commission, but it was overturned by a judge and later reduced to three years.

Emelianenko and Mitrione have more recent history.

Mitrione was forced out of their scheduled fight last month when he was hospitalized the morning of the card due to kidney stones.

Of the four fighters announced for Bellator 180, Mitrione is the youngest at 38. Sonnen is 39, while Silva and Emelianenko are both 40.

Bellator has made headlines with several big-name signings over the past several months, including former UFC light heavyweight contender Ryan Bader on Monday. It’s also possible he could be added to the card at some point.

The event will mark Bellator’s first visit to Madison Square Garden. Professional MMA was legalized in New York just last year after a decade-long battle in the state legislature.

Contact Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-277-8028. Follow @adamhilllvrj on Twitter.

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