If you asked fictional The Fast and Furious character Dominic Toretto (played by burgeoning EDM artist Vin Diesel), he will tell you, “It don’t matter if you win by an inch or a mile, winning is winning.”
Ask newly-crowned Titan FC bantamweight champion Danny Sabatello (8-1), however, and you’ll get a different answer.
The Chicago native would like to win his upcoming Dana White Contender Series opportunity by a mile, not an inch, on Tuesday night when he takes on Taylor Moore (10-4).
“I would love to say that there’s not extra pressure or extra thinking to be exciting, but the truth is for all these guys, myself included, that’s in the back of our head,” Sabatello told MMA-Prospects.com.
“With this Dana White’s Contender Series, in particular, you can’t just fight. You can’t just win. You can’t just lay on the guy because that’s not going to get you a contract. That’s not what Dana White wants to see. I don’t think I necessarily need to force anything, but I do need to be a little bit more exciting because that’s what Dana wants to see. I guess there is a little bit more pressure, but I think of myself as a feeder off of pressure. We’re all facing a little more adversity because [on] a normal card, [you just want] to win. Get the job done. Now that we are faced with, ‘Win and be a little bit exotic and electric.’ That’s where I’m going to start shining. And I do think I will shine and be very exciting on Tuesday,” continued Sabatello.
If he does win in convincing fashion, he will get to join his two main training partners at American Top Team, bantamweight contender Pedro Munhoz (18-5) and former title challenger Marlon Moraes (23-7-1), in the UFC.
Sparring with and learning from those two on a daily basis gives Sabatello great looks in practice, and that experience level is something that should be a huge advantage for “The Italian Gangster.”
“It’s awesome because Marlon Moraes and Pedro Munhoz are the best fighters in the world,” Sabatello said. “Those are top 5 guys in the UFC. It just brings my confidence up that this guy isn’t going to throw anything I haven’t seen before because I’m in there with straight killers, every day.”
One thing they have been working on in the gym comes from Sabatello’s lone career setback, a loss in December that came at the hands of three-fight UFC veteran Irwin Rivera (10-6).
“The main thing with the Irwin fight was that he was a southpaw,” Sabatello explained. “I didn’t really, truly understand that it’s very different fighting a southpaw than it is fighting an orthodox guy. Going into that fight, throughout training camp, all my training partners were orthodox guys.
“I figured it’s the same thing, a punch is a punch. I couldn’t have been more wrong,” said Sabatello. “After that fight, I started focusing on southpaws more because, throughout my career, I’m going to have to fight more southpaws. It was actually a blessing in disguise that I got to have that fight because my southpaw standup has gotten so much better. This guy [Moore] is a southpaw, so I’m ready for another southpaw.”
But Moore doesn’t just stand southpaw; everything he does is a little different.
An awkward fighter, his movement is all over the place, and that’s something that Sabatello seems ready for this time.
“He’s kind of unorthodox,” Sabatello said. “You kind of get a tough read on him because he’s spastic and tense. You kind of need to be a little cautious because he might be throwing a bomb from a mile away. In terms of technical, I don’t think he’s very technical. I think I just need to stay patient and wait for him to slip up. I have seen him slip up a lot in his fights. I think a key for me is to be patient in there because he does make mistakes, and I know he will make mistakes, I need to capitalize on that.”
That mistake could come on the feet, where Sabatello has three knockouts, or the ground. Moore’s awkward strikes leave him susceptible for the takedown, even to the point where UFC vet turned Bare Knuckle Boxing staple Johnny Bedford (23-14-1) opted to take him down.
On the ground, Sabatello has four submission wins and is coming off a pair of wins via choke.
He isn’t necessarily looking for them, but he will gladly take the submission.
“The last two fights were submissions because they were open and there,” Sabatello said. “I think of myself kind of as a freestyle fighter. I’m confident on my feet, as well. Wherever the fight goes, I’m going to be comfortable. I don’t necessarily search for the takedown in this fight and the submission. I think I’m just going to play it by ear and take whatever opening there is.
“I do feel confident in this particular fight that I’m better everywhere. I feel that I’m just as good with my jiu jitsu and grappling as I am on the feet more than him. Wherever he wants to go, I’m down to go and finish him there,” promised Sabatello.