“The Italian Gangster” gives Boardroom his 100% unfiltered take on O’Malley vs. Yan at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi, in all its inimitably brash glory.
Danny Sabatello isn’t one to hold back. Even if you were uninitiated to his particular oeuvre, perhaps if you knew he was from Chicago, you’d get it. Perhaps if you knew he was a professional cagefighter from Chicago, you’d internalize the whole thing post-haste. Perhaps if you knew he was a professional cagefighter from Chicago whose nickname is “The Italian Gangster,” well…
Well, yes. “A hearty veni, vidi, vici to you, too, sir,” I hear you mustering up the worldly nerve to say as he walks by, probably wearing sunglasses indoors and chewing on, like, a whole thing of thumbtacks.
Sabatello, a contender in Bellator MMA’s ongoing $1 million Bantamweight Grand Prix tournament, is due to scrap with Raufeon Stots on Dec. 9 at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut. But when Boardroom spoke with him this fall about that fight, we were intrigued to note just how many strong (read: demonstratively profane) opinions he had about a different bantamweight bout in an entirely different mixed martial arts promotion: Oct. 22’s tilt between Sean O’Malley and former world champion Petr Yan at UFC 280 in Abu Dhabi.
Naturally, we had to share Danny Sabatello’s takes on O’Malley vs. Yan, edited for length and clarity, with you.
I mean, how could we not?
SAM DUNN: I was just thinking about your height. You’re 5-foot-10 — is Corey Sandhagen the only major MMA bantamweight that’s a bit taller than you? I can’t think of anyone else who’s even in that range.
DANNY SABATELLO: No one really comes to mind. Lately, I’ve been double-checking any time that there’s a big fight coming on — anytime there’s a bantamweight fight, I’m always sizing them up, thinking about different techniques that if we were to fight down the line, how I would beat the shit out of ’em.
I think Sean O’Malley is also pretty fucking tall, but that doesn’t matter. I would bash that guy. I’d fucking easily just take him down and murder him, so I don’t even have to size up that guy ’cause he’s a little bitch.
SD: Speaking of which — O’Malley vs. Yan at UFC 280. What happens in that one?
DS: I think Yan knocks him out. I think this is too much above O’Malley’s pay grade.
His thing is on the feet, obviously, and that’s where Yan shines, so I just think it’s a really bad matchup for him. I think he’s gonna have to stick out his jab a ton to keep it long and rangy because Yan is short and O’Malley is tall, but I just don’t see that happening. I see Yan closing the distance. Maybe a slower first round for Yan, you know, cause we all know he kind of likes to feel out his opponents. Once he gets him down, I think he knocks out O’Malley.
I actually do see O’Malley being a little bit overwhelmed on the feet and actually going for a takedown against Yan, but I think Yan will know that’s gonna happen and stuff his takedown and then he’ll knock him out.
SD: I’m really curious about that matchup not just because these guys are so different physically and stylistically, but because the booking feels like it came out of nowhere. But hey, give the people what they want — Sean is a popular guy.
DS: It’s no surprise that O’Malley did get that matchup because he is such a big name and money sells fights. You’re right, give the people what they want. It just was just so odd because it was a no-contest [for O’Malley] against Pedro Munhoz, and then off of that he’s getting Peter Yan, but again, this is a business. You can’t really be too sour about anything. If it makes money, it makes sense.
Again, I just think his stock is gonna be lowered once people see that [O’Malley] is actually not one of the top dogs in this division. Even from a business aspect, I’m surprised he even wanted this fight. He must have extreme confidence, because I do see his stock lowering a little bit after this fight.
SD: It would be hard to pick against Yan if I was gambling, man, but something just generally about this fight feels strange. Different.
DS: I think all fight fans and the people that understand fighting know it’s for sure strange, but to the casual mind and the casual eye, the people that don’t really follow the sport that kind of just know the big names. They might be thinking that O’Malley is, like, the best bantamweight ever just because his name is so big — but again, people that follow the sport know that he’s just a little bitch. They know his technique’s not too crisp. He’s probably not where he should be in his career right now.
You know, I haven’t really seen too much of his ground game, but I don’t think it’s gonna be very good. I think this is a good matchup that the UFC wanted because it’s two guys that like to stand up. There probably won’t be too much grappling.
Although, again, I do see O’Malley going for a shoot once he gets overwhelmed. But yeah, it’s a strange matchup. Let’s see how it plays out. You know, this is fighting, this is a crazy business. Anything can happen; it’s not football where it has to go the [full] length of the time, [where] no matter how much you’re down or if you slip up, you can still come back and still have a nice play and all that — no, this is fighting. You could be losing for almost the entire fight. One lucky punch or one lucky kick or one lucky submission can end the fight.
So, obviously, anything can happen. O’Malley could win. But I just don’t see it happening.
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