Danny Sabatello may just be the most polarizing figures on Bellator's entire roster.
"The Italian Gangster" is just two fights into his tenure with the organization, but he's already making waves – both for his performances inside the cage, as well as his fiery disposition outside of it.
At this past weekend's Bellator 278, Sabatello (12-1 MMA, 2-0 BMMA) dominated a previously unbeaten Jornel Lugo, earning his way into Bellator's bantamweight grand prix, where the tournament winner walks away with a $1 million check. It was the biggest opportunity of Sabatello's young career, and he wasn't shy about predicting his victory ahead of time. But when it came time to deliver, Sabatello was able to shut out Lugo over the course of 15 minutes, taking home 30-26 scores across the board.
"The bigger the moment, the more I shine," Sabatello told MMA Underground. "You know, that's kind of why I talk trash. I like the eyeballs on me. I like the pressure. I like all that sh-t. I think not only that, but I think other people aren't very good when the pressure goes on. You know, from an outsider's perspective, from a fan's view on TV, you just think guys are just talking trash. But you know, I'm very smart in this game and I know how to get in these guys' heads, so I think anytime I can build up a little bit more pressure, create a little bit more eyes, I think I perform even better and I think my opponents perform even worse.
"I did realize it was a big moment, but I treat this stuff as fun to me. You know, I don't treat this as a f-cking business. I don't treat this as a professional or as a profession. I just treat it as just I'm going to go out there and have some f-cking fun, so I might as well talk some trash because that's who I am in general. It didn't matter if I was going into that cage and playing them in hacky sack or pinball or whatever, I was going to go in there and talk trash just because that's what's fun to me, that's what's authentic to me. But yeah, it was definitely a big f-cking weekend. I needed to get that 'W,' and I needed to get it in that fashion, and I totally delivered."
If this is your first introduction to Sabatello, you now understand why his newly created Twitter handle is @ShockThisWorld. Oh, and did you happen to see his first tweet, directed at Leandro Higo (21-5 MMA, 4-3 BMMA), who he's expected to face at June's Bellator 282?
Sabatello said his feelings on Higo are partly just because he's the next guy in line, but the face that the Brazilian veteran has missed weight in two consecutive contests doesn't sit right with the lifelong wrestler, either.
"Yeah, it's an abundance of things," Sabatello said. "First things first – I will never tolerate people missing weight. I just think that's so unacceptable in our profession. I don't know how he's not totally embarrassed, and it's just so pathetic. You know, not only has he missed weight once, but he's missed weight like three f-cking times. It's like, dude, how can you call yourself a man if you're not even making weight? Like, what is the deal? Maybe go up in weight. I don't know. Maybe quit being a little b-tch. Nobody likes making weight. Nobody likes cutting the weight except for if you're me. I like cutting weight. I feel like a fucking gangster.
"But, yeah, it's just that part's unacceptable, then I also think he's just a little bit overrated. You know, they say he's a jiu-jitsu specialist. I don't see it. I think I'm going to submit him. I know on paper people are going to think this is going to be a fight between a jiu-jitsu specialist and a very high-level wrestler, but it's not. It's a fight between a f-cking gangster in MMA and a piece of sh-t. So I just think I'm just going to smash him, and I'm very going to be very happy because I just I don't like how he carries himself either. But also, you know what? He's next in line. I bring this animosity to anybody I fight. This one is just a little bit more personal."
Should Sabatello make it past Higo, he'd face Raufeon Stots next. Sabatello insists he's not letting himself think that far ahead, but he did give a hint as to his evaluation of "Supa" as an opponent.
"I think Stots sucks," Sabatello said. "He's so slow."
Love him or hate him, Sabatello has announced himself as a new name in the organization with his past two performances. If he can deliver on his promises for what's to come next, he might prove undeniable as a legitimate contender.
""Expect absolute violence and pure entertainment," Sabatello said. "When I go in there, I f-ck these dudes up. I carve them up real nice. I f-cking elbow them in the head relentlessly, one after another after another. I give these guys stitches. My goal in these fights isn't just to beat them, it's to dominate them, and when you're in this sport, domination means cutting them open and beating the sh-t out of them.
"Going forward, all my fights are just going to be absolutely pure violence. If violence isn't your thing and you're a p-ssy, that's fine. Don't watch it because it is going to be violent, and that's what I plan to do. June 24 against Leandro Higo in Connecticut is just pure violence and just pure blood. I'm going to f-cking make him have stitches, and I want to get him scars for the rest of his life."
To see the full interview with Sabatello, check out the video above.