Following professional judge Doug Crosby's 50-45 decision in the main event of Bellator 289, the commission in charge of the fight's scoring is going to examine the results.
Mohegan Athletic Department Director of Athletics Mike Mazzulli issued a written statement in which he stated that he had no concerns with the eventual outcome but was anxious about the "controversial" 50-45 score. He planned a debrief of the contest with the three judges: Crosby, Eric Colon, and Bryan Miner.
“In the last Bellator event (December 9, 2022) there was a controversy in the Sabatello vs. Stots fight,” Mazzulli wrote. “After reviewing the fight, three rounds of the five rounds were extremely close and the other two were marginally close rounds.
“One judge had Sabatello winning all five rounds, which is controversial. But ultimately Stots won the decision, which is the correct result. In an effort to make this a learning moment, I have informed all three judges we will be reviewing the fight together.”
The review procedure was not described in full by Mazzulli, although he did say that judges' assignments would be lost if they were unable to apply the parameters appropriately.
“This is a very serious situation,” he wrote. “The Mohegan Tribe Athletic Department always looks out for the best interests of all fighters. In the past the Mohegan Tribe Athletic Department has sanctioned officials that are not performing to the level that is required. Such sanctions, when they occur, are not made public.”
Paddy Pimblett vs. Jared Gordon, the co-main event of UFC 282, was also assessed by Crosby, who has presided over numerous high-profile UFC fights. He was then in the majority, scoring in Rounds 1 and 2 to help Pimblett defeat Gordon by a score of 29–28.
It was the first occasion a score like Crosby's 50-45 for Sabatello had been given to the loser of a contest, according to MMADecisions.
Following the decision, Sabatello expressed his dissatisfaction, claiming that Crosby's scorecard in comparison to Stots' remaining two "doesn't make sense."
"That's gotta be the most dumb judging I've seen in awhile at a high level of MMA," wrote UFC bantamweight champion Aljamain Sterling in response to a conflict-of-interest claim made against his training partner Al Iaquinta as a result of his former instructor Ray Longo's dispute with Crosby.
Scott Coker, the president of Bellator, expressed sympathy for the judges during the competitive title match but added that it could have gone to either way, but he has no idea on what basis a 50-45 scorecard came forward. With the victory, Stots moves on to face Patchy Mix, who beaten Magomed Magomedov at Bellator 289, in the Bellator bantamweight grand prix finale. The champion will get $1 million.