Raufeon Stots said he was happy to silence Danny Sabatello’s trash talk by defeating him at Bellator 289.
Stots’ all-round MMA game proved the difference-maker against Sabatello, whose gameplan relied on takedowns and ground control. But a lack of offense from Sabatello while in advantageous positions cost him, as Stots scored more effectively through the fight to earn the victory.
“I’m satisfied that I got the win, but I wanted to get that motherf****r out of there,” he said.
“That’s the most satisfying, given the talk he was talking. I’m glad to be the one to shut him up for a little bit. I can sleep at night knowing that.”
Stots defeated Sabatello via split decision in a bout that saw one judge score all five rounds for Sabatello – a scorecard that was widely criticized for not reflecting the action that unfolded at the Mohegan Sun Arena.
“I was surprised with the 50-45.,” Stots admitted.
“I believe he was trying to control. We know that’s his game, but he did no damage.
“I did the things I was supposed to do. I was progressing toward the finish, he was trying to stall the fight out.
“Just because you hold somebody’s legs doesn’t mean you should win a fight, and that’s how I think it should be. This is mixed martial arts.”
With Sabatello constantly chasing the takedown and attempting to shut down Stots on the ground, the interim bantamweight champion had to be on his guard, not just to defend the takedowns, but also to ensure that he used his time in all situations to score whenever he could.
“My coaches were giving me a sense of urgency,” he explained.
“That’s his whole game; he’s gonna try to hold me. He was good enough to get past a lot of my defenses, but ultimately, he wasn’t able to do anything with the positions and I was able to escape. I was able to reverse him or escape the majority of the time.”
And, for Stots, the most satisfying thing was to finally hit pause on Sabatello’s trash talk, which was a major feature of the build-up between the pair. Stots kept to his gameplan and the fight went accordingly.
“Everything that I said was going to happen, happened. It’s gratifying,” he said.
“I wanted to finish him and disable him for a little bit, but I got the win. I’m gonna sleep well for a little bit. I’m probably gonna keep trolling him for a bit.”
Despite the rivalry and the trash talk between the pair, Stots did credit Sabatello for helping bring more eyeballs to their matchup, and explained how his fighting style helped give him the opportunity to showcase his own skills on the big stage, in a major fight.
“I think he was great for my career. He was a great step for me,” he said
“I needed a villain, someone people thought could hang with me and challenge me. His skills were better than I thought they were, but I still won, so I’m still gonna talk shit to him.
“I think he’ll be back. I think he’ll learn from this loss and be better for it. Hopefully, I’ll see him again, because this was a fun fight and a fun buildup, so hopefully.”
Stots’ victory followed the earlier bantamweight Grand Prix semi-final, which saw Patchy Mix claim a hugely impressive finish of Magomed Magomedov to punch his ticket to the $1 million final, against Stots.
Stots was prepping for his fight while Mix was taking on Magomedov, but said that he had seen enough of the fight to know that their clash in the final will be a memorable one.
“I saw glimpses of it. I saw the finish,” he said.
“I know Patchy’s good on the ground, but you’re not better than me at mixed martial arts. You’ve got to get past a lot of things to get to that position. I’ve got amazing submission defense and wrestling.
“I’m looking forward to that fight because he’s proving himself as one of the greats. He’s deserving of the spot. I’m looking forward to putting my fist through the gap in his teeth.”