Over the past year or so, the MMA world has entered a strange relationship with Facebook founder and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
First, Paddy Pimblett called him “a lizard,” and the “biggest bully on the planet” and later claimed he wanted to fight the social media billionaire. Then the entire UFC Apex was shut down for a “private” event catering to Zuckerberg, UFC Vegas 61, icing out even the media, who were denied access and the ability to do their jobs.
Now, Bellator 294 winner Danny Sabatello has brought Zuckerberg’s name into the MMA spotlight again, by claiming the pair exchanged DMs prior to his fight against Marcos Breno.
“I was DM’ing with Mark Zuckerberg before this fight, and he said ‘good luck tonight, let’s see the hands flow.’ That encouraged me to let the hands flow,” Sabatello said following his submission of Breno on Friday — which did feature a little more stand-up than usual on the part of “The Italian Gangster.” “So shout out to Zuck for having me f*cking throw some punches, having me clip the guy.”
You might want to take this story with mountainous grain of salt. Sabatello, after all, comes from the Chael Sonnen school of self-promotion. It’s almost a surprise the bantamweight didn’t claim to see Zuckerberg feeding a carrot to a bus.
“I don’t want to elaborate too much. I don’t want to put too much of his information out there,” Sabatello said, then went on to elaborate anyway. “He’s a good friend of mine, he’s the f*cking sh*t, he’s the leader of the free world, he’s the f*cking sh*t. He encouraged me to show off my striking tonight, swear to God.”
“We were talking about the game plan for this fight, and obviously you don’t want stray away from it too much. You don’t want to be too crazy out there. When you’re the better fighter, you want to play it safe, you want to get the victory and the finish, but play it safe just because you want to fight your fight. But when you’ve got a DM from Mark Zuckerberg to show off the hands, you’ve got to show off the f*cking hands. Showed off the hands, clipped him, said goodnight.”
Earlier in the night, Sabatello had admitted that his persona and love of cursing was surely costing him sponsorship money. But why care about money when you’ve got a pal in one of the richest men on the planet?
“I’m not too worried about the money; he’s my friend, he’s not so much there for money. I would never ask him for money or anything like that,” Sabatello said on that front. “He’s a fan of fighting, he’s a savage, I’ve seen him training out there. He’s just a f*cking all-around good dude. I don’t want to make this all about him or anything like that, I hate to even name drop him, I don’t like doing that sh*t, but he’s the f*cking sh*t, and he recognizes real talent. I don’t mean to be cocky or anything, but obviously he recognizes that I’m f*cking awesome and I’m a very good fighter, so that’s just what it is.”
Zuckerberg talk aside, Sabatello picked up his first finish in Bellator on Friday, a rear-naked choke that put away Breno in the second round.
“You’re always chasing the finish. I’d be lying if I said in my previous fights I wasn’t chasing the finish,” Sabatello told Cageside Press when asked about that accomplishment. “I’m always chasing the finish, it’s f*cking hard. If you fight in an organization like Bellator where all it is, is f*cking killers, man it’s f*cking hard to finish these guys. I’m also a guy that has very good conditioning, so in my mind I wish these fights were seven rounds long. If these fights were longer than three rounds, I’d have all finishes.”
Watch the full Bellator 294 post-fight press conference with Danny Sabatello above.