Another year of action has come and gone for Bellator MMA, and on Friday night, the promotion’s final show of 2022, Bellator 289, will be held from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT. The 12-fight card will be headlined by a championship doubleheader, including the Bellator 289 main event. Between Bellator and the UFC, three titles are slated to be awarded this second weekend of December.
Bellator MMA Interim Bantamweight Championship Up for Grabs in Bellator 289 Main Event
The second half of the championship doubleheader to conclude Bellator 289 sees the Bellator Interim Bantamweight Championship available in the Bellator 289 main event. Current interim champion Raufeon Stots (18-1 MMA, 6-0 Bellator) seeks to defend his 135-lb. strap when he takes on challenger and No. 3 contender Danny Sabatello (13-1 MMA, 3-0 Bellator.)
This semifinal in the Bellator MMA Bantamweight Grand Prix will be a maximum of five rounds at five minutes per round. Its winner in the Bellator 289 main event will advance to fight the survivor of the other grand prix semifinal fight between No. 4 contender Magomed Magomedkerimov (19-2 MMA, 3-1 Bellator) and No. 2 contender Patchy Mix (16-1 MMA, 5-1 Bellator) in the final sometime in 2023.
The tournament champion then receives a $1 million (USD) cash prize and a guaranteed shot at the permanent division crown against Sergio Pettis (22-5 MMA, 4-0 Bellator. Pettis withdrew from the tournament before the opening round last April due to injury, with Stots initially booked as his opponent the night of April 22.
Bellator 289 Main Event Fighter Comparison and Betting Odds
Heading into the Bellator 289 main event on Friday night, challenger Danny Sabatello stands as the taller man at 5-foot-10, compared to the 5-foot-7 frame of interim champion Raufeon Stots. In addition, Stots owns a three-inch reach advantage (72 1/2 inches to 69 1/2 inches over Sabatello.
As it stands currently, the oddsmakers have Raufeon Stots installed as a -160 favorite, with Danny Sabatello countering as a +135 underdog. If you plan on betting on this or any other fight happening this weekend, please wager responsibly.
Raufeon Stots Looks to Settle Score with Danny Sabatello
Raufeon Stots comes into the Bellator 289 main event on Friday evening having posted a record of 5-0 in his last five fights. He’s currently on a 10-fight winning streak across all competitions.
During the April 22 quarterfinals of the grand prix, he knocked out Juan Archuleta (26-4 MMA, 8-3 Bellator) with a head kick in the third round to set up the fight against Sabatello this weekend. In the run-up to Bellator 289, a war of words between the two fighters began.
Recently, Stots was interviewed by Denise Salcedo, where he spilled his guts about his upcoming adversary.
“That’s one of the reasons I don’t like him,” Stots began, “and I feel like he’s just a sour person, you know what I’m saying? A sour person from the inside, and he just outwardly projects that in front of everybody he sees. That’s not something I can align with. That’s not something that I can respect. If he’s a person that, if he was in a sticky situation, a not-so-great situation, he would just spew hate to everybody that he feels like is doing better than him or in better positions than him. That’s just not the type of people I like, man.”
One certainty regarding the Bellator 289 main event is this: When the referee asks Raufeon Stots and Danny Sabatello if they’d like to touch gloves before the fight begins, you can be assured that it won’t happen.
Danny Sabatello’s Side of the Story
In the other corner, Danny Sabatello has gone 5-0 himself in the last five fights. Counting all promotions, he’s on a seven-fight winning streak.
Last time out, he bested Leandro Higo (21-6 MMA, 4-4 Bellator) on June 25 in the quarterfinals. After the victory, Sabatello was assessed a $5,000 fine for coarse language used in his post-fight media availability, including the use of the middle finger.
During an interview on the SHAK MMA YouTube channel, he revealed that he has no plans of toning his candor down.
“Yeah, that’s up to the Connecticut commission,” Sabatello began. “They did that last time, but the one thing I always say, you can always count on me being me, and I am going to be not one that’s just obsessed with the money, and I don’t really give a (expletive deleted) if they do fine me or not. It’s going to be on them. Nothing can stop me from being me.”
Sabatello explained that he’s already been informed he will be fined in the event that he uses coarse language this time around.
If you didn’t understand before, you can absolutely understand it now: There will be bad blood spilling on Friday night in the Bellator 289 main event.
Analysis, Film Study, and Prediction
Stylistically, the Bellator 289 main event looks to favor Raufeon Stots. While both fighters are former collegiate wrestlers, the former has an edge due to his brown belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu. On paper, this is a strength versus strength matchup, so who will be stronger on fight night?
Raufeon Stots Can End Things Quickly
Raufeon Stots has been known to viciously end fights, sometimes doing so in as little as a single blow, like he did on April 1, 2016 against the late William Joplin. Although the fight was slated to be a three-round affair, Stots needed just 75 blistering seconds to get the win.
Stots began by absorbing some punches but returned fire with a leg kick. From there, he threw feints to keep Joplin honest, along with piecing him up with a two-punch combination. Moments later, he landed a nasty head kick to score the knockout.
If Stots is able to come out kicking in the Bellator 289 main event, it could be over faster than you can make your sandwich.
…So Can Danny Sabatello
In the other corner, Danny Sabatello has also been known to end the fight inside the first round, as he did in Titan FC against Phillip Keller in 2019. Although Sabatello hunted for an armbar early on in the first round, Keller was able to fight it off, yet it was to no avail in the long run.
Sabatello repeatedly scored ground and pound shots from the crucifix and back mount. Although Keller attempted to fight back, the referee determined that he was taking far too much damage to continue and called off the bout.
If Danny Sabatello is able to land punches in bunches, the Bellator 289 main event will be a wrap.
At the core, the Bellator 289 main event could very well be a barnburner. Pay the pizza guy before the fight starts. You’ll be sorry if you don’t.
Prediction: Raufeon Stots by Third-Round KO.