After the scorecards were read in the wake of Bellator 289’s main event, Danny Sabatello made a hasty exit from the cage.
While one judge had scored the fight 50-45 for Sabatello, two others had awarded rival Raufeon Stots scores of 48-47. In a close fight, that 50-45 was a glaring outlier, but Sabatello nevertheless believes he did enough to win the fight.
“Pissed off” is how he described his emotions following the bout. “I think I won that fight, my team thinks I won that fight. Obviously I take full responsibility for the loss. Any time you lose a decision, you could have obviously stopped the other guy and won by stoppage, whether it’s KO or submission. But I don’t know how the f*ck I lost that fight.”
“I think the judges f*cked this one,” Sabatello (13-2) exclaimed. The bantamweight, who lost out on a spot in the Bellator Bantamweight Grand Prix Final with the loss, was heated about the judges throughout his post-fight media appearance. “I don’t know how one judge has it 50-45, I win every single f*cking round, then the guy next to him has me lose a close fight. It doesn’t f*cking make sense to me. But it is what it is. Nothing changes off my book, I think I won. That’s that.”
Despite the loss, Sabatello insisted that his future remains bright. He’ll return to American Top Team, and “go balls to the wall in training and keep striving to get that f*cking belt. I’m young, I only started MMA four years ago, I got in Bellator a year ago and I already got this title shot. So obviously it’s a very bright future for me, and it’s just a little speed bump.”
“At the end of the day, I still think I’m the best f*cking bantamweight in the world. I still know I f*cking won that fight. It’s become a sport where you’re just trying to trick three f*cking judges, and that’s it,” he added. “Doesn’t matter how anyone else sees the fight, it’s just three f*cking people that don’t even know what they’re looking at.”
Sabatello took umbrage with the vast discrepancy in control time between himself and Stots. “I had over ten minutes of control time, and he had under one minute. I don’t see how somebody wins the fight there. He threw a lot of strikes that did not land.”
In the fifth round, Sabatello claimed that Stots “was throwing an elbow that was hitting my shoulder repeatedly, not connecting. I don’t have a bump or a bruise on me. I am perfectly fine, he never f*cking hit my face. Again it’s very frustrating, because I think I won that fight, but again I do take full responsibility because at the end of the day, I f*cking lost, no matter what I think or anyone says. I know I lost.”
Sabatello was leaking a bit of blood by the end of the fight, his bleached blonde hair dyed red to one side. The 29-year old was adamant nonetheless that the judges were at fault. Which will perhaps color how he seeks to shore up his game back in the gym.
“A loss like this, you go back and you kind of work on techniques to trick the judges. If I throw a lot of volume in that fight, if I throw a lot of punches and they don’t land, and they just hit his arm and nothing else, it’s gonna look like I’m beating him up evidentially in the judge’s mind,” said Sabatello. “Right now in this sport, all you gotta do is trick three judges.”
Watch the full Bellator 289 post-fight media appearance by Danny Sabatello above.