Coker: '[Bellator NYC] is the best MMA PPV that's been offered in 2017'

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Bellator MMA will promote its second-ever pay-per-view event, Bellator NYC: Silva vs. Sonnen, inside Madison Square Garden three weeks from now.

It is the first PPV offering of Scott Coker's tenure as president, which started in June 2014 -- and it will not be the last. Bellator's current identity is built around its television platform of Spike TV, but Coker believes that will evolve to incorporate PPV in the coming years.

"This is not something we're going to go in and out of," Coker told ESPN.com. "This is something we're committed to. The company is committed to doing PPV fights."

A grudge match featuring Chael Sonnen (28-15-1) against Wanderlei Silva (35-12-1) will headline Bellator NYC. Neither fighter has headlined a PPV event -- or won a fight for that matter -- since 2013, but Coker has confidence that the history between the two will be enough to sell the $49.95 broadcast.

"We've been waiting in the wings for Wanderlei," Coker said. "Had he been available to fight in January, Chael would have fought him instead of Tito Ortiz, and that's because that's the fight that's been built up for the last four years. That fight was supposed to happen three years ago and it never did. I feel people are still interested in this and that's what it comes down to: the matchup."

The PPV will also receive a massive marketing push, unlike anything in Bellator history.

According to Coker, Viacom -- the media conglomerate that owns Bellator and Spike TV -- has invested a multimillion-dollar off-channel marketing strategy to be rolled out this month.

The overall financial investment will be "20 to 30 times more" than anything Viacom has put into Coker's previous "tent pole" events. Obviously, that comes with certain expectations on how it will perform.

"When you say expectations, it's something I think we're going to feel," Coker said. "To me, any [buy rate] in the mid-200,000s would be respectable. And anything in the 300,000s would be considered a big hit.

"The PPV business is tough and there's a lot of competition in the marketplace. There's boxing fights around us, wrestling events, other MMA shows. But honestly, I think this is the best MMA PPV that's been offered in 2017. I'm a fight fan and always buy the big fights; I haven't bought one of them this year. But this PPV, the way we've stacked it from top to bottom, is the best offering this year."

Bellator's only other PPV, Bellator 120 in May 2014 headlined by Quinton "Rampage" Jackson and Muhammed "King Mo" Lawal, reportedly drew 100,000 buys.

In addition to the main event, Bellator NYC features heavyweight legend Fedor Emelianenko's first fight in the U.S. since 2011. He is scheduled to fight Matt Mitrione.

Two title fights round out the paid portion of the card, including welterweight titleholder Douglas Lima (28-6) facing Lorenz Larkin (18-5) and lightweight champ Michael Chandler (16-3) against Brent Primus (7-0). Widely heralded prospect Aaron Pico will also make his professional debut. Filling the top fights of a crucial PPV with names like Silva, who hasn't fought in four years, Sonnen, who has faced multiple suspensions for banned substance use, and Emelianenko, 40, who was retired as recently as 2015, may seem risky, but Coker says he has never been concerned with potential card changes.

"This is a sport where you could be 21 years old and still have the same risks," Coker said. "Look at the fights that have fallen off this year. Let's be honest. Age doesn't have anything to do with it. It has to do with the fact that accidents happen all the time and people get injured."

Bellator NYC is the promotion's first trip to New York, where professional MMA was banned from 1997 to 2016.