Bellator’s final show on US soil this year will see championships decided and scores settled as two emerging rivalries will be thrown under the spotlight in Uncasville.
Bellator 289 takes place Friday, December 9 and features a title-fight double-header at the top of the card, with the men’s interim bantamweight title and women’s flyweight title set to be decided at Mohegan Sun Arena.
The main event bout between interim bantamweight champion Raufeon Stots and trash-talking challenger Danny Sabatello will not only decide who walks away with the interim title at 135 pounds, but also who will progress to the $1 million Bellator bantamweight Grand Prix final.
Stots has looked every inch a title threat since his arrival on the Bellator roster in late 2019. Four wins saw him elevated into the upper echelon of the bantamweight division, and a victory over Russian title contender and former ACB champion Magomed Magomedov cemented his credentials as one of Bellator’s bantamweight elite.
His third-round knockout of Juan Archuleta to capture the interim title strapped the rocket boosters to the man known as “Supa”. Stots’ performances, delivering the goods when the opponents were the highest caliber, demonstrated that we still don’t know just how high his ceiling really is.
One man who plans to find out is Danny Sabatello. “The Italian Gangster” arrived in Bellator with a dominant decision win over former UFC bantamweight Brett Johns at Bellator 259 last year, then earned a wild-card spot in the Bellator bantamweight Grand Prix with another dominant win on the scorecards, this time against Jornel Lugo.
His quarter-final bout with Brazil’s Leandro Higo at Bellator 282 saw Sabatello enter five-round territory for the first time since his unsuccessful tilt at the Titan FC bantamweight title in 2019. This time he was successful, however, as he earned another unanimous decision win to propel him into the final four, and a semi-final bout with Stots.
Both have collegiate wrestling credentials, both are on notable win streaks, and both believe they’re Bellator’s best at 135 pounds. But only one can advance to the tournament final with the interim title over their shoulder.
Also in Grand Prix action on the card is the other bantamweight semi-final, as Patchy Mix takes on Magomed Magomedov.
Repeat or revenge?
Bellator 278 should have been one of 2022’s feel-good MMA moments, as Liz Carmouche finally captured a major championship when she defeated Brazilian champ Juliana Velasquez for the Bellator women’s flyweight title.
But the manner of Carmouche’s TKO win, and the call by referee Mike Beltran that split opinion after the bout, left an unfortunate element of doubt over Carmouche’s championship win. Velasquez cried foul and demanded a rematch, and Bellator have granted her wish.
Now Carmouche and Velasquez will face off in an immediate rematch with the 125-pound title on the line once again. Carmouche will look to eliminate any doubt this time around, while Velasquez will bid to reclaim the belt she feels she shouldn’t have lost last time out.
It’s a fascinating backstory behind a great stylistic clash, and one that, hopefully, will leave a clear, undisputed champion at the top of the division by the night’s end.
Bellator 289: Official Fight Card
- Raufeon Stots (ic) vs. Danny Sabatello – for interim bantamweight title (Grand Prix semi-final)
- Liz Carmouche (c) vs. Juliana Velasquez – for women’s flyweight title
- Patchy Mix vs. Magomed Magomedov
- Dalton Rosta vs. Anthony Adams
- Denise Kielholtz vs. Ilara Joanne
- Cody Law vs. Cris Lencioni
- Kyle Crutchmer vs. Jaleel Willis
- Kai Kamaka III vs. Kevin Boehm
- Mark Lemminger vs. Michael Lombardo
- Pat Downey vs. Christian Echols
- Cass Bell vs. Jared Scoggins