Raufeon Stots and Danny Sabatello are doing the heavy lifting in spurring interest for the Bellator Bantamweight World Grand Prix. The tournament format encourages a meritocratic process, but the process is a lot more fun when the participants can’t stand each other.
Promoters are always searching for colorful personalities to build connections with existing fans and draw a larger audience. Stots and Sabatello have relished the opportunity to showcase their personalities — trading barbs in joint interviews, press conferences, face-offs and on social media. It is a refreshing change for Bellator and an important ingredient in building intrigue ahead of Bellator 289 on Friday night where the two will square off in the semifinals for the interim title currently held by Stots.
“I figured Danny out,” Stots told CBS Sports. “It’s not that he doesn’t like anybody. He just knows people are not going to like him, so he doesn’t like them first. Do you know what I mean? He knows somebody is going to say that he’s a douche, so he’s just like, ‘No, f— all of you before you even come at me.'”
“One thing I do want to do is just establish my dominance over him and my will over him,” Sabatello told CBS Sports. “I don’t want this to be a fight where people think, ‘Holy shit, I don’t know who would have won if they fought again.’ No, I want to f—ing break this motherf—er. I don’t even want it to be a quick first-round finish. Obviously, if that did happen, I would be happy. You got to be happy with any win you can get in this crazy sport. But I do want to make it a dogfight. I want to make it bloody. I want to f—ing torture him. I want to dominate him and then get the finish in those later championship rounds.”
Check out the full interview with Danny Sabatello below.
There is certainly a component of gamesmanship and business savvy to their fight promotion, but Friday’s headliners appear to genuinely dislike each other. Even their fight analysis permeates with bravado.
“I feel like Danny is one of the most one-dimensional fighters in Bellator history,” Stots said. “He’s very good and it’s obvious. He’s very good at wrestling. Another thing he’s really good at is creating a facade or an illusion that he doesn’t only want to wrestle. So I think that’s what makes him so good. He’s good at winning because he’s good at getting to what he knows and what he is good at.”
Check out the full interview with Raufeon Stots below.
Sabatello was somehow even less polite.
“Everybody has finishing capabilities no matter who it is, but in terms of skill and technical standpoint, I don’t think he’s better anywhere than me,” Sabatello said. “Obviously, my grappling is so much better than his, but I think he’s also slow in his striking. I think I’ll be able to expose that. I don’t really think I have too much to worry about with this guy.”
There is honor among thieves and ever the bird-flipping, F-bomb-dropping Sabatello has some rules that he abides by. Trash talk is directed solely at the intended target with no collateral damage: no family and no religion. It took a lot of prying, but Sabatello was willing to give Stots one compliment in comparison to their Grand Prix contemporaries.
“Most marketable? It might be Stots just because he does talk trash,” Sabatello said. “A lot of these fighters in Bellator don’t really talk trash. I don’t know why. You’re going up against somebody that’s trying to rip your head off. Why would you not f—ing hate the guy? So I think Stots is marketable because he does talk trash even though it’s not good trash talk. I think he f—ing sucks at trash talk, but he actually does it.”