Sabatello, currently scheduled to face Leandro Higo in a bantamweight grand prix bout at Bellator 282 on June 24, competed on Dana White’s Contender Series in November 2022 and picked up a lopsided decision win over Taylor Moore — even earning a rare 30-24 scorecard in the process. The UFC president opted not to sign “The Italian Gangster” who went on to sign with Bellator in 2021, earned wins over Brett Johns and Jornel Lugo to get a spot in the grand prix, and a step closer to winning the $1 million prize.
At this point in his career, Sabatello is happy to thank White for not signing him when he had the chance — which seems to be a theme amongst several of the fighters at American Top Team, according to Sabatello.
“I love being with Bellator and everybody that’s in Bellator really seems to like Bellator,” Sabatello told MMA Fighting on Heck of a Morning. “The good thing about being at the best gym in the world, American Top Team, is we’ve got so many f****** guys in the UFC, and so many guys in Bellator, and I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot more positive talk about Bellator than there is in the UFC and that’s a pretty main thing across the board. Everybody loves Bellator, I don’t know about the UFC too much, but other people aren’t talking too good about it.
“Thank God Dana didn’t take me then, because the thing is, Conor McGregor kind of made the UFC, and I think I could do that for Bellator. I think I could get it even bigger just becoming a huge name in Bellator, and just making it so Bellator is the best and baddest, by far, promotion. I’m looking forward to it.”
When asked to elaborate on some of the things he had heard from his fellow teammates at ATT, Sabatello said it goes beyond the bank accounts of the fighter, to more of a widespread, across the board positive feeling from the Bellator athletes compared to the UFC athletes.
“A lot of things,” Sabatello said. “Not just about pay because Bellator is paying better than the UFC, but just the professionalism and getting fights. Everything’s a little tough right now in the UFC — I don’t want to get too in-depth or sell anybody out because the one thing I’m not is a rat — but even if you check on Twitter or Instagram, or talk to these fighters, but I think more fighters in the UFC are not as satisfied with the promotion as the fighters in Bellator.
“You talk to guys in Bellator and it’s like, ‘Man, Bellator runs a great f****** show, they pay me well, everybody’s nice and respectful.’ They do all the right things, and not many people are saying that about the UFC.”
Of course, Sabatello would be lying if he didn’t say that not getting a UFC contract was a bummer shortly after it happened. Now seeing how is career is shaping up, along with a chance to face Raufeon Stots for the interim title with a win over Lugo, and a new multi0-fight deal he signed following his win over Lugo at Bellator 279, the 29-year-old is more than satisfied with where his career path is taking him.
“Yeah, absolutely, I think these are the best shoes I could possibly be in,” Sabatello explained. “I’ve got a chance to win $1 million — I don’t really care too much about the money — but being that bantamweight champion. To me, Bellator has the best bantamweights. Just look at the depth in this f****** tournament. It’s insane. All of these guys are straight killers. When you look at the guys in the UFC, I think they’re really deep, but I think I would take our top-eight against their top-eight, so obviously this is a good move for me.
“Back then, it would be really dumb to say I wish they didn’t take me because in that time I really wanted them to take me, but it worked out the way that it did and I’m very fortunate to be with Bellator.”
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