Controversial Bellator fighter Danny Sabatello has been fined $5,000 by the Mohegan Tribe Department of Athletic Regulation for his post-fight antics after his big win over Leandro Higo at Bellator 282 in Connecticut on Friday, Heavy has confirmed. Sabatello told “Big” John McCarthy he was warned he could be fined if he swore during the in-ring interview, but he did it anyway.
Michael Mazzulli, the president of the Mohegan Tribe commission, told Heavy they follow the ABC Unified Rules of MMA and he found Sabatello to be in violation of rule 21, “use of abusive language in the fighting area,” which states, “The use of abusive language is not allowed during MMA competition. It is the sole responsibility of the referee to determine when language crosses over the line to abusive. It should be clear that fighters can talk during a match. The mere use of auditory language is not a violation of this rule. Examples of abusive language would be (Racially motivated or Derogatory language).”
Mazzulli added, “He was warned on two different occasions. In fact, in the post interview, he stated he was warned about abusive language and did not care.” Sabatello told McCarthy in front of the booing Uncasville crowd, “You know what ‘Big John?’ I was told that if I swore in my post-fight interview I might get fined. It’s a good thing I don’t give a f***. I just beat an absolute animal and not one of you are going to do s***. Want to do something? Come in here right now and do something.”
The fine was first reported by MMA Fighting. Mazzuli told the site, “I said just be respectful of the sport, that’s all I ask, and don’t push. You heard him standing there saying, ‘I’m going to get fined, but I don’t care.’ So he got fined.”
Sabatello, an Illinois native and former Purdue University wrestler known for his brash behavior and smothering fighting style, is set for a showdown against interim Bellator bantamweight champion Raufeon Stots in the next round of the promotion’s $1 million bantamweight grand prix. After his victory over Jornel Lugo to earn a spot in the tournament, the “Italian Stallion,” unleashed several f-bombs during his interview with McCarthy, as the former MMA referee turned commentator counted the number of times he swore behind his head. On Friday, Sabatello and Stots faced off in the center of the Bellator cage after Friday night’s fight, setting up a heated lead-up to their semifinal showdown.
Sabatello Reacted to the Fine While on Ariel Helwani’s ‘MMA Hour’ Show
Sabatello learned about the fine from the Mohegan Tribe while he was being interviewed by Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour” on June 27. “I was told during fight week that my mouth and my actions could get me in a little bit of trouble,” the 29-year-old American Top Team talent told Helwani. “I had security following me the entire f***** week. … After the fight when I was flicking off the crowd and swearing and doing all that s*** some guy came up to me and said I was going to be fined.”
The 13-1 Sabatello said, “Totally worth it. Just because that’s who I am. … We’re in the cage trying to beat the s*** out of each other. We can f***** murder each other, so you’re going to get mad at me for saying a four-letter word, than that’s just f***** crazy. I don’t really care to much about the money. You can fine me whatever. I don’t really give a s***. I’m going to do me.”
After Helwani confirmed Sabatello would be fined $5,000, Sabatello said, “That’s f***** bulls*** dude. You know what? I don’t care. If I fight there again I’m going to do the same s***. You can keep f***** fining me. Nothing is going to deter me from being myself. And it wouldn’t do justice to the fans. I want the fans to know exactly who they’re dealing with. That’s who I am. That’s my personality. Fine me, who gives a f***. It’s just money anyways.”
A Legal Expert Says Sabatello Could Have Good Grounds for an Appeal
Mazzulli told MMA Fighting that Sabatello can appeal the fine levied against him. At least one legal expert thinks Sabatello could have a good chance of getting the fine against him overturned. Sabatello and his representatives have not said if he will appeal. Bellator hasn’t commented about the commission’s fine.
Combat sports regulatory lawyer Erik Magraken tweeted, “Fighter has good grounds to consider appealing. Rule is designed to capture abusive hateful speech (racial stuff etc). … Other issue is consistency. If fighter can point to (probably dozens) of examples of regulator not caring about swearing can argue his fine is arbitrary. But barring appeal the F bomb now comes with a $5K price tag in Mohegan overseen events.”
In his Combat Sports Law article, Magraken wrote, “There is a good argument that the spirit of this prohibition was not violated. Sabatello could consider appealing. One key to administrative law is the fair and consistent application of a rule. If other fighters have used similar language that the Mohegan regulator did not sanction Sabatello has a good argument that his fine is arbitrary and should be set aside.”
Sabatello, meanwhile, is also battling MMA fans who have booed and criticized him for his wrestling style and the way he fights. He told Helwani during Monday’s interview, “These f***** idiots online who don’t understand MMA might say it’s boring and all that s***. But you know what’s boring, Ariel? Domination. Domination is boring. If you watch a football game and it’s 56-0, of course it’s f***** boring. So yeah that fight is boring because I’m dominating that motherf*****. What do you want from me? Are you going to be mad at me for doing so good? How about you guys get f***** better so it won’t be boring. So we can have these scrambles, have these exchanges, I’m punching you in the face, you’re punching me in the face, we’re going for submissions. That doesn’t happen because I’m dominating these motherf******.”