Bellator 289 results: Raufeon Stots wins tight split decision over Danny Sabatello, advances to grand prix final

UNCASVILLE, Conn. – After a lengthy build up filled with trash talk, Raufon Stots and Danny Sabatello finally got to settle their differences in the main event of Bellator 289.

With a spot in the bantamweight grand prix final and the interim title on the line, Stots (19-1 MMA, 7-0 BMMA) and Sabatello (13-2 MMA, 3-1 BMMA) went the 25-minute distance in a very close fight that left the official judges cageside at Mohegan Sun Arena split in their decision.

Naturally, there was no touch of gloves to start this bout given the heated build up.

Stots opened with a few strikes, but Sabatello soon went to work with his wrestling game. Sabatello found his way to the back, but Stots rolled to get back to guard, and then used a whizzer to get back to his feet. Sabatello stuck with the clinch though, and landed a few short strikes against the fence.

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Stots exercised more caution in the second round, as he was on the lookout for takedown attempts from Sabatello. The champ was able to land a few solid strikes and stop some takedowns, but Sabatello eventually got what he wanted and brought the fight to the ground. While scrambling for position, Stots found a kneebar attempt, although the round would end with Sabatello on the champ’s back after escaping.

Sabatello looked for a takedown early in the third, but Stots sprawled and kept a knee on the canvas. Sabatello landed an illegal knee to the head, causing a brief pause in the action, but he was not docked a point.

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After finding success with strikes, Stots switched things up by going for a takedown of his own, and dragged Sabatello to the mat. A moment later, Sabatello worked his way back up and reversed position before separating.

Stots continued to win striking exchanges on the feet, but gave up a takedown to Sabatello. Scrambles for position followed, but as Sabatello maintained a solid grip, he was unable to land strikes or attempt a submission. The fight returned to the feet where Stots landed a few solid punches.

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Before the final round, both corners told their fighter the fight was likely tied on the scorecards.

As Stots pressured forward with strikes, blood began to trickle from Sabatello’s nose. After a wild scramble for a takedown, Stots ended up in a weird position with Sabatello hanging on to his waist, but was able to land a few elbows to the head. Sabatello kept his grip through more scrambles. They separated in the closing seconds and both emptied the tank with strikes until the fight concluded.

The razor-close fight went to the judges scorecards. Judges Bryan Miner and Eric Colon scored the fight the same, 48-47 in favor of Stots, while the dissenting judge, Doug Crosby, scored every round for Sabatello with a 50-45.

When hearing Stots won the fight, Sabatello stormed out of the cage. After leading the crowd in song sending his opponent on his way, Stots exclaimed, “F*ck you Sabatello!”

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With the win, Stots records the first defense of his interim bantamweight title and advances to the grand prix final, where he will meet Patchy Mix. Earlier in the evening, Mix submitted Magomed Magomedov to earn his spot in the final.

The winner of the final bout will take home the interim bantamweight tile and a $1 million prize.

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Full results of Bellator 289 include:

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for Bellator 289.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie