by The Prophet, ProphetFighting
The UFC today terminated the contract of Renato "Babalu" Sobral in response to his unsportsmanlike behavior at last Saturday's UFC 74 event. Sobral failed to release a choke hold on his opponent, David Heath, following a tap out and the referee's instruction to do so. Initially Sobral suggested that he didn't see the tap, but later said that he wanted to teach Heath "some respect". Heath *did* wear a t-shirt to the ring with Sobral's mug shot on it from a July arrest, but that's just the sort of run of the mill fighter "head game" that a veteran fighter shouldn't take personally.
Sobral's action was widely condemned within the MMA community and word on the streets is that he'll very likely be suspended by the Nevada Athletic Commission for his actions. Since this suspension will be honored by the regulatory bodies in other states his only recourse will be to wait it out or to take his act oversees. Look for him fighting on a beach in Costa Rica for BoDog Fight since I don't see the big Japanese MMA organization (K-1/Heroes) risking their credibility by letting him fight there.
The implications of Sobral's actions were discussed in a post here entitled "American Standards a Bit Off Kilter". I offered a dissenting view in a post very cleverly entitled "A Response to 'American Standards are a Bit Off Kilter".
Sobral's career has been in a downward spiral over the past year or so. He's a fundamentally talented fighter with a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu who was viewed for awhile as a potential superstar. Oddly enough, the apex of his career likely came in a loss when he went the distance with the consensus best MMA fighter on the planet, Fedor Emelianenko. After running off 10 straight victories starting in 2003 he received a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title, then held by Chuck Liddell. He inexplicably decided to trade shots with "The Iceman" rather than try to get the fight to the ground, and the result was a TKO loss in just over a minute and a half of the first round. He lost a subsequent "comeback" fight to talented young Jason Lambert again by TKO.
Sobral was arrested in July for trying to rough up a bouncer at a Florida casino. This incident placed him on a slippery slope with the UFC, so his termination following his behavior at UFC 74 isn't exactly a shock.
My hunch was that Sobral was attempting to revive his career by trying to adopt a pro wrestling inspired "bad guy" persona. If his goal was to make the fans hate him it seemed to work since he was booed ruthlessly after the match. He got a more negative reaction than Kobe Bryant's appearance on the video screen. If Sobral *was* trying to make himself the "heel" with his actions it clearly backfired--it doesn't matter how much the crowd hates you if you don't have a job.
His immediate future will be determined at a Nevada Athletic Commission hearing tomorrow. I'm thinking he'll be suspended, but even if he's not his career prospects aren't particularly rosy at the moment. He's a mediocre fighter at best at this point in his career, and there's not an MMA organization on the planet that wants to put up with a malcontented head case unless he's got the skills to justify it. He might wish that he *hadn't* roughed up that bouncer in Florida since that's likely his best vocational option in the near future.
UFC cuts controversial fighter @ Sherdog
by The Prophet, ProphetFighting