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Video: Bellator interim champ scuffles with top contender during face-to-face interview

Raufeon Stots is set to put his interim bantamweight title on the line against Danny Sabatello on December 9th.

Raufeon Stots speaks to the media during a Bellator 279 press conference.
Raufeon Stots speaks to the media during a Bellator 279 press conference.
Photo by Hans Gutknecht/MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images

Bellator’s Bantamweight Grand Prix was meant to include at least one title defense for current divisional champion Sergio Pettis. However, following Pettis’ removal from the opening round due to injury, the eight man tournament has prompted the creation of a new interim belt.

When ‘The Phenom’ dropped out of his bout against Raufeon Stots, Bellator subbed in the man who lost the title to Pettis, Juan Archuleta. The outcome became an interim belt for Stots, following his 3rd round KO victory over the ‘Spaniard’. Stots is now set to carry his piece of the championship forward into the sem-final tournament round, against Danny Sabatello at Bellator 289 on December 9th.

Already gaining a reputation as a flamboyantly outspoken fighter, the 29-year-old Sabatello entered the Bantamweight Grand Prix as a ‘wild card’—defeating Jornel Lugo to secure a quarter-final contest against former title contender Leandro Higo. Sabatello defeated Higo via 5 round decision, lining him up for this latest showdown.

Stots and Sabatello sat down for a recent episode of the MMA Hour to do a live and in-person, face-to-face interview promoting their upcoming bout. When host Ariel Helwani got to the topic of wrestling and who—between the two men—was better at it, things got a little heated.

A former two-time NCAA DII champion, Stots was quick to trumpet his own talents.

“I’m the better wrestler,” Stots told Helwani. “We can go wrestle right now, I’ll beat the shit out of him.”

That, it turns out, was all Sabatello needed to hear. A former two-time Illinois state champion high school wrestler, the ‘Italian Gangster’ went on to compete with solid success in Purdue University’s NCAA DI program. Both men have their fair share of bonafides when it comes to their abilities on the mats.

Helwani was able to get the two athletes calmed and separated enough to continue the interview, but the altercation will no doubt provide some extra motivation when the cage door closes this December.

Alongside the bantamweight interim title fight, Bellator 289 is expected to feature the second Grand Prix semi-final bout between former title contender Patchy Mix and former ACB bantamweight champion Magomed Magomedov.