It was another historic night in New York as Bellator MMA descended on Madison Square Garden for the first time in their history.

The event featured both familiar faces and hot prospects as The Garden was treated to an entertaining night of action.

Here are the 9 things we learned from Bellator MMA’s debut night in New York

#1 – Sonnen back in the win column

It’s taken four years for him to get there, but finally “The Bad Guy” is back to winning ways.

The main event fight between Chael Sonnen and Wanderlei Silva wasn’t a classic, but both men gave it their all and the fight did have its high points.

The Brazilian had the better of the standing exchanges, but every time he looked to hurt Sonnen he was put on his back as the American secured takedown after takedown.

Silva had his moments, but Sonnen was always taking the decision on the cards and the judges didn’t let him down.

Sonnen took the decision 30-26, 30-27, 30-27 and in true Bad Guy style, he proceeded to taunt the New York crowd during his post-fight interview. Somethings never change.

#2 – Mitrione beats Fedor after double knockdown

Matt Mitrione vs. Fedor Emelianenko was never going three rounds, but few would’ve predicted that it would end like it did.

On a night where seemingly everything happened, we had the rare sight of a double knockdown in the first round when both Mitrione and Fedor threw big right hands that connected at exactly the same time.

Both men hit the mat, but only one had his bearings—Mitrione. The American took full advantage and after landing a few stiff uppercuts, he ended the fight with a massive right hook to put the Russian’s lights out.

Madison Square Garden erupted as “The Last Emperor” lay unconscious on the mat. It was a shocking finish, but Mitrione deservedly had his moment and the crowd stood on their feet to show their appreciation.

Was this Fedor’s last fight? Judging by the Russian’s demand for a rematch in the post-fight press conference, it looks like we will see him again.

#3 – Brent Primus wins the Bellator lightweight title amidst controversy

Fight nights rarely pass without controversy and we got our share last evening with the lightweight title fight between Brent Primus and Michael Chandler.

Primus’ tactics were clear from the start—attack the legs of the champion and land big leg kicks. To be fair, Primus had a lot of success and after landing a multitude of a multitude of solid blows to the outside calf, Chandler’s ankle gave out in stomach-churning fashion.

The champion tried to battle on, but every few steps his ankle would give out on him and after the fourth time, the referee paused the fight to call in the doctor. At first, it looked like he was going to be able to continue, but after a lengthy discussion, the fight was called off despite Chandler insisting he could continue.

Brent Primus was announced the new Bellator lightweight champion following an injury, but Chandler was back on his feet and demanding a rematch just seconds after Primus had the belt strapped around his waist.

Few will complain if it happens.

#4 – Zach Freeman upsets Aaron Pico’s debut

MMA is a crazy sport and last night Zach Freeman stunned the world when he defeated hot prospect, Aaron Pico.

Freeman walked into the cage a massive underdog and he soon found himself on the backfoot as Pico came out the gates flying. Unfortunately for Pico, he left himself open for a counter as he came charging forward and Freeman slipped one his punches and dropped him with a right hand.

With just 24-seconds on the clock, Freeman locked on a D’arce choke and after a brief struggle Pico tapped out. Jaws dropped around the arena as no one could quite believe what they were seeing.

The Aaron Pico hype train was derailed, but no doubt the talented 20-year-old will be back. It was a stark reminder that in MMA, anything can happen.

#5 – James Gallagher raises the roof at MSG

What a night for James Gallagher.

The young man from Strabane, Northern Ireland came, saw and conquered as he defeated Chinzo Machida via submission in the first round.

Gallagher talked himself up before the fight, but not even his pre-fight confidence did his performance justice. It was a totally dominant performance as he hunted his man down with his footwork, took him down to the mat and then worked his way into position to sink in a rear-naked choke.

It was a magical moment for the 20-year-old and he celebrated on top of the cage with the crowd in The Garden on its feet.

Gallagher has a massive future and last night he proved he can do it on the biggest stage.

#6 – Heather Hardy is one to keep an eye on

Two weight boxing world champion Heather Hardy made her MMA debut last evening and what a performance it was.

Hardy’s boxing and footwork looked good throughout, but elements of her game looked green and Yauger was able to catch with her kicks and knees that at times put her on the back foot.

For someone making their debut, Hardy did well managing her energy and in round three her poise and stamina really made the difference. After the bout was paused to treat a nasty cut on Hardy’s eye, the New York native poured it on and she finished the fight with a deadly flurry of accurate punches with just 13-seconds left on the clock.

It was an incredible way to get Bellator 180 started.

#7 – Ryan Bader is the new Bellator light heavyweight champion

Ryan Bader made a successful Bellator MMA debut last evening when he defeated Phil Davis via split decision to take home the Bellator light heavyweight title.

The fight went the full five rounds and the split decision was inevitable with both men matching the other blow for blow and takedown for takedown.

After being treated to six action-packed fights to start the evening, the Madison Square Garden crowd weren’t entirely appreciative of stalemate and both men were harshly booed as the 25-minute war ended.

Bader may have won the belt, but he still has some work to do to win over the Bellator fans.

#8 – The UK and Ireland TV deal must be sorted soon

It was a fantastic night of action last evening, but unfortunately, fans in the UK were not able to enjoy the full night of action.

Fans couldn’t watch the Bellator 180 preliminary card live and had to pay £14.99 to watch the five bouts on the Bellator NYC main card.

The preliminary card will eventually broadcast at 11 pm Monday evening on Spike UK, but by then the world will know the results and those interested will have probably found the highlights on the internet.

It’s a real problem and it needs sorting before the next time Bellator stage another blockbuster event like last evening. After all, what’s the point of having a great night of fights if a significant portion of your audience can’t watch it?

#9 – This was a significant night for MMA

Last evening wasn’t just a significant night for Bellator, but arguably for the sport of MMA in general.

The UFC has long led the way as the powerhouse promotion in the sport and in recent years they’ve lacked a real competition to push them.

Bellator MMA last night proved that they are a force to be reckoned with and while they are still behind the UFC on many fronts, they’re fast catching up and making some big waves in the process.

Their roster is ever improving and they’re slowly but surely promoting some of their own younger stars to the big leagues. If you’re an avid UFC fan who refuses to watch anything else, it’s about time you gave Bellator a chance because it’s very likely you’ll become a fan.

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