View Full Version : Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral Strikeforce interview exclusive with MMAmania.com

19-11-2008, 09:57

Renato “Babalu” Sobral (30-7) doesn’t make many excuses — sometimes it’s your day, sometimes it’s not. And sometimes you put a guy in an anaconda choke and don’t let go until he learns his lesson.

But one thing’s for sure: when the cage door shuts this Friday night, November 21, at Strikeforce: “Destruction,” Babalu is going to be nothing but business when he takes on the promotion’s light heavyweight champion, Bobby Southworth (9-5).

The event takes place at the HP Pavillion in San Jose, California and will air on HDNet.

Fighting for the title of a signature MMA promotion like Strikeforce is a big step in the right direction for Babalu. After losing back-to-back fights to then-UFC Light Heavyweight Champion Chuck Liddell (21-6) and Jason Lambert (23-9), and then being released by the UFC for refusing to relinquish a chokehold on David Heath (9-4), despite tapping, some thought Babalu’s career might be in jeopardy.

However, the submission wizard appears to have bounced back, posting three consecutive wins, including a three-round unanimous decision victory over Mike Whitehead (23-6) at Affliction: “Banned” back in July. He’s now won 13 of his last 15 fights, which includes wins over Trevor Prangley (18-5), Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (16-3) and Jeremy Horn (80-18-5) all in the same night at IFC: “Global Domination.”

We caught up with the Gracie Barra Combat Team member to ask him about his recent win over Whitehead, the UFC’s decision to cut him and about how a fighter makes his money these days (that is, not by signing exclusive contracts with only one promotion).

Side note: Babalu’s manager, Richard Wilner, recently told MMAmania.com, “Many fighters don’t have speed coaches, but I have a feeling after they see this fight, a lot of fighters will be going out and hiring speed coaches.” Babalu has been training with speed coach Rick Hagedorn from Speedburners for this fight.

Let’s get to it.

19-11-2008, 09:57
Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): You recently defeated Mike Whitehead (23-6) via unanimous decision at Affliction Banned. How do you feel about how that fight went, both the good and the bad?

Babalu Sobral: Of course I wish I could have finished the fight, but I couldn’t. Mike Whitehead is one of the toughest opponents I’ve had my whole life. But I’m very happy. He’s one of the tough guys on the scene.

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Fight fans were hoping to see you and Tito Ortiz square off at an Affliction event that never happened. I know that you two have traded jabs in the past. Is this a fight that you still want to see happen?

Babalu Sobral: If the fight could happen, it’d be awesome. The chance to fight Tito would be amazing. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. What can I do?

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Is there still bad blood between you two?

Babalu Sobral: There is nothing between us. It’s not bad or good. It’s all professional.

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): After the incident with the UFC releasing you from your contract because of the David Heath incident, what was your reaction to that? Did you think that that was a double standard, given some of the crap other fighters have done in the past and who weren’t released from their contracts?

Babalu Sobral: I don’t know. If they didn’t (release other fighters), that’s not my business. What they did to me … I made my mistake, I paid my bills, they kicked me off, they fined me for 25 Gs … I don’t have any … that’s in the past now. I look forward to the future. So if (a similar thing) happens to anybody, it’s not my business. It just is what it is.

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): You’ve fought 10 times in the UFC, dating back to 2000. Would you ever like to return to the UFC? Do you think that will ever happen?

Babalu Sobral: My future is now with Strikeforce on November 21 against Bobby Southworth. That’s my future.

(Note: We’ll get in touch with Babalu before his Matt Lindland fight on January 24 … he wanted to focus on Southworth during this interview.)

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Well let’s talk about that fight. It’s for the Strikeforce light heavyweight title. What does it mean to you to be fighting for the title again, especially since this is the main event of such a strong promotion like Strikeforce? Where some of the other promotions have been failing, Strikeforce seems to be pushing right through. What does this opportunity mean to you?

Babalu Sobral: It means a lot to me. Strikeforce is a good organization. They have pretty good fighters over there, and you have the chance to fight on NBC — that’s pretty good. And I think it’s a good challenge to fight Bobby. He’s been a champion for a while. I go to fight and take his belt, that’s what I’m going to do.

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): What problems, if any, do you see a fighter like Bobby Southworth bringing to the table?

Babalu Sobral: He’s the champion. He’s got skills. Of course he has skills, otherwise he wouldn’t be the champion. He’s got good hands, he’s a good striker, and he has pretty good technique. But I’m training hard, and I’m going to walk through him.

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Do you plan to keep the fight standing as long as possible, or would you prefer…

Babalu Sobral: I plan to finish the fight as quick as possible.

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): So do you think that you’re going to have better luck on the ground?

Babalu Sobral: I don’t know. I don’t know. It’s a surprise (laughs).

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): I heard that you recently opened up a new gym in Cerritos.

Babalu Sobral: Yes, we opened my gym in Cerritos two weeks ago. Check us out at BabaluBJJ.com. Right now, I’m very focused on my fight, but when I finish my fight, I’ll be back at my gym, working at my gym, teaching jiu-jitsu there in Cerritos in California. I’m very happy to have it.

I have a lot of students, and my students are happy because they are going to watch my fight. They know, they talk to me and say, “Ah, this is fun, because now the guy we are watching on TV is the guy we are training with together.” But the thing is, if you train jiu-jitsu, that’s a lot of teaching. I now have a place for when I retire I have a place to stay and give my knowledge away. Give something back to martial arts that they gave to me my whole life.

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): So are you living in the U.S. full time now?

Babalu Sobral: Yes, that is correct.

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): I’ve also read that in the past, I don’t know, six months or so, that you’ve signed several non-exclusive contracts with a variety of promotions. Obviously, there’s the Affliction fight and now the upcoming Strikeforce fight. But I’ve also read about Hardcore Championship Fighting, Xcess Fighting, there was that Ring of Fire fight. Is that accurate that you have signed non-exclusive deals with multiple promotions?

Babalu Sobral: That’s the way everyone does. That way you can make money, when you need money, you can fight people who are the best at where they are. When they lock you down someplace, sometimes you don’t have fights. You might have one fight, but … basically you’re stuck in one place that doesn’t have a fight for everybody. They care about the promotion, but they don’t care about the fighters. The fighters have to make money to live. So really you are the best, but if you lose, they take you away.

Still anything can happen in a fight. You train for two months, and 15 minutes, 25 minutes, have to prove what you are. Sometimes it doesn’t happen, sometimes you have bad luck, sometimes you have a bad day. But you are still a fighter. But then, you can come back and make some money. Start training and make some money again.

But if still lock yourself down in one place you might not make money. You can make money anywhere. I don’t care if you have to make money to live. That’s the kind of bullshit I don’t like.

But yes, we are under contract with Strikeforce and Affliction, no others.

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): With both of those promotions having signed you, that should keep you busy well into 2009. Can we expect to see you fighting more frequently in 2009?

Babalu Sobral: Oh definitely. Definitely. I have a chance to fight more and work more. That’s what I want to do. I want to fight more, as much as possible. Not because of money, just because I like to fight (laughs).

Adam Wagner (MMAmania.com): Well, I can tell you that there are a lot of fight fans who are looking forward to this fight between you and Bobby. I really appreciate the time you took to talk with us, and I wanted to give you an opportunity to plug any sponsors or if you have any parting words for your fans.

Babalu Sobral: Keep looking for my next bout. I’m going to take his belt, and I’m going to be champion of Strikeforce.

I’d first like to thank MMAmania.com for this opportunity. I’d like to thank Strikeforce for the opportunity, as well as Affliction for being able to work together to allow this fight to happen. The fight wouldn’t be possible without the support of sponsors who have been very good to us, including Affliction as an apparel sponsor, Hitman and Metal Mulisha. Thanks to Dr. Scott Connelly of Progenics.

Thanks to all the coaches and training partners, including Marcio Feitosa, my jiu-jitsu coach and head instructor of Gracie Barra; Justin Fortune, my boxing coach of Fortune Gym in Hollywood; Rick Hagedorn, my speed coach from Speedburners. Thanks to my strength coach Eric Arevalo of Virtus Strength and Conditioning; and Erik Paulson from Combat Submission Wrestling (CSW) and Josh Barnett.

Special thanks to Richard Wilner, “Babalu” Sobral’s manager, for helping make this interview happen, as well as Strikeforce Vice President Mike Afromowitz.

19-11-2008, 10:38
ik vond het altijd een leuke vechter, tot het Heath incident, dat hoort gewoon niet in een ring/kooi thuis.

19-11-2008, 10:41
Ik kon die stunt stiekem wel waarderen ondanks dat het niet in een pro-mma scene hoort...
Maar op een of andere manier paste die aktie wel een beetje bij sobral.. en die heath lag al de hele tijd te stangen enzo... maar goed.. all part of the game.

Vond het jammer dat die gehypde partij van hem tegen liddell zo snel afgelopen was.
(ufc 62)

19-11-2008, 12:15
Ik vond het wel meevallen, heb mensen wel eens langer zien vasthouden. ook in de UFC. Maarre, netjes was het niet.

19-11-2008, 12:17
royce en andere gracies waren er ook niet vies van om submissions erg lang vast te houden.. vooral die armbars hield royce erg lang vast.

19-11-2008, 13:37
royce en andere gracies waren er ook niet vies van om submissions erg lang vast te houden.. vooral die armbars hield royce erg lang vast.
daar zaten ook heel wat nare momenten bij idd

vind Babalu wel cool
en die actie ook wel
maar ja...
ben dan ook maar gewoon een klootzak