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Renato Sobral Bio

Renato da Cunha Sobral (Portuguese pronunciation:[ʁeˈnatu soˈbɾaw]; born September 7, 1975), also known as "Babalu", is a retired Brazilian wrestler and mixed martial artist, and former Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. Sobral previously fought in the Ultimate Fighting Championship, where he posted a 6–4 record and has also competed for Bellator, RINGS, Jungle Fight, Cage Rage, Affliction, and ONE FC. He is the Head Instructor of Babalu's Iron Gym Cerritos and has a Luta Livre black belt. He is also a Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt under Carlos Gracie Jr. In his prime he was considered one of the top fighters in the world and defeated the likes of former Welterweight UFC Champion Robbie Lawler, former Light Heavyweight UFC Champion Shogun Rua, former Heavyweight UFC Champion Maurice Smith, along with former title contenders Chael Sonnen, Elvis Sinosic, and Jeremy Horn.


  • 1 Background
  • 2 Mixed martial arts career
    • 2.1 Early career
    • 2.2 RINGS
    • 2.3 Ultimate Fighting Championship
    • 2.4 UFC 74 controversy
    • 2.5 Strikeforce and Affliction
    • 2.6 ONE Championship
    • 2.7 Bellator Fighting Championships
    • 2.8 Metamoris III
    • 2.9 Metamoris VI
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 Championships and accomplishments
    • 4.1 Mixed martial arts
    • 4.2 Amateur wrestling
  • 5 Mixed martial arts record
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


Sobral is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and began competing in wrestling from a young age of nine. Sobral later went on to be a South American Wrestling Champion in 1998, a three-time Brazilian National Wrestling Champion in 1998, 1999, and 2000, and was a Brazilian National Muay Thai Champion in 1992. Sobral joined the Gracie Barra Combat Team and trained in Ruas Vale Tudo, a martial arts system developed by Marco Ruas.

Mixed martial arts career

Early career

Sobral made his professional mixed martial arts debut on September 27, 1997 in his hometown of Rio de Janeiro. He won all three of his fights on the same night by strikes and then had a one-fight stint in International Vale Tudo before fighting in Brazilian Vale Tudo on July 24, 1999. Sobral again won all three of his fights that night and then made his debut in the Japanese RINGS organization.


Sobral made his RINGS debut against Georgian wrestler Zaza Tkeshelashvili and won via kimura arm submission. He followed this up with a unanimous decision win over British kickboxer Lee Hasdell.

Still undefeated, he participated in the King of Kings 1999 Final, winning his first two fights of the day before being handed his first career loss by Dan Henderson. Sobral lost the fight via minority decision, two judges scored the bout a draw while a third judge scored the bout in Henderson's favor.

Sobral then won his next four consecutive fights before losing to Valentijn Overeem by a toe hold submission.

After a one-fight stint in the UFC, he fought in RINGS three more times. He defeated Kiyoshi Tamura via majority decision, followed this up with another majority decision win over Tsuyoshi Kohsaka. Sobral then faced Fedor Emilianenko at the 10th Anniversary show and lost via unanimous decision.

Ultimate Fighting Championship

Sobral made his UFC debut at UFC 28 against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Maurice Smith. Sobral won the fight via unanimous decision.

At UFC 62, Sobral was defeated by Chuck Liddell in a bout for the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship. The match was stopped as a technical knockout at 95 seconds into the first round. Following his loss to Liddell, Sobral faced Jason Lambert at UFC 68. Sobral was knocked out in the second round.

UFC 74 controversy

Sobral's next fight was at UFC 74 against David Heath. The first round consisted of Sobral ground and pounding Heath. In the second round, he opened a cut on Heath's forehead which bled profusely. Sobral secured another takedown and then worked to an anaconda choke. Heath tapped out, but Sobral continued to hold the anaconda choke, ignoring referee Steve Mazzagatti's commands and resisting his attempts to break the hold. Sobral did not release the choke until Heath passed out from hypoxia. During his post-fight interview, Sobral told UFC commentator Joe Rogan that he was aware that Heath had tapped, but "he (Heath) has to learn respect. He deserved that. He called me motherfucker." In his dressing room after the fight, Sobral spoke to Las Vegas Journal-Review columnist Ed Graney. Sobral then mocked the crowd for booing him, saying "The crowd didn't like it? Who cares? At least they had a reaction."

On August 30, 2007, Sobral was released from his contractual obligations by the UFC due to his actions at UFC 74. UFC President Dana White called Sobral's actions "completely unacceptable. This is the fight game and shit happens. But no way can you do what he did." White also supported the fans attitude towards Sobral after the fight. "I think you saw the response from the fans. Babalu was a fan favorite. They turned on him immediately." Additionally, the Nevada State Athletic Commission withheld $25,000 of Sobral's $50,000 fight purse and convened a hearing to deal with both his holding the choke and ignoring Mazzagatti's orders.

Strikeforce and Affliction

After the termination of his deal with the UFC, Renato Sobral was courted by numerous promotions looking to sign him. During the September 29 Strikeforce event at the Playboy Mansion it was announced that Sobral had signed a non-exclusive deal with Strikeforce. It has since been revealed that he signed two more non-exclusive deals with Hardcore Championship Fighting and Xcess Fighting. Sobral also later competed in an event for the Ring of Fire promotion, defeating K-1 veteran Rodney Faverus by submission (arm triangle choke).

Sobral was scheduled to fight fellow UFC veteran Vernon "Tiger" White in a match to crown the first WCO Light Heavyweight Champion. However, because the show's promoters were unable to secure adequate funding to pay the fighters, the show was canceled at the last minute by the California State Athletic Commission.

Sobral then signed with Affliction Entertainment's MMA promotion and appeared at Affliction: Banned on July 19, defeating Mike Whitehead by unanimous decision. Sobral's next fight was against Bobby Southworth in San Jose, California on November 21 for the Strikeforce promotion. Babalu defeated Southworth via TKO due to a cut over the right eye in between round one and two, making him the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion.

Sobral next fought his second fight for Affliction, this time against Sokoudjou at Affliction: Day of Reckoning on January 24, 2009 in a light heavyweight fight. The fight ended in the second round when Babalu submitted Sokoudjou with a D'arce choke. After his victory he showed an interest in fighting former UFC Light Heavyweight Champion, Tito Ortiz.

Sobral was set to fight fellow Brazilian Rafael "Feijao" Cavalcante at the past event Strikeforce Presents: Lawler Vs. Shields in St. Louis, Missouri on June 6, 2009, but the bout was scratched. The bout would have been for the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship.

Sobral was next set to make his third appearance for Affliction in a fight against Gegard Mousasi at Affliction: Trilogy, but the event was canceled after losing its main event. The fight was then moved to Strikeforce's August 15 card, Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg and changed into a bout for the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship with Sobral as the titleholder. Sobral lost the title to Mousasi via knockout in the first round.

Sobral last fought Robbie Lawler in a 195lbs Catchweight bout on June 16, 2010 at Strikeforce: Los Angeles. Renato Sobral won via unanimous decision.

After defeating Robbie Lawler it was believed that Sobral would face Muhammed Lawal for the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title. However, in his post-fight interview Sobral stated that he would not fight Lawal and instead requested a rematch with Dan Henderson who he fought over ten years ago.

Sobral's request was later fulfilled and he fought Dan Henderson at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu II on December 4, 2010. Sobral was knocked out in the first round.

ONE Championship

In late December 2011, After one year of inactivity Sobral signed an exclusive deal with Singaporean MMA promotion ONE Championship also known as ONE FC, ONE FC officials stated that Sobral has "global exclusivity" with the promotion. Sobral was slated to fight Melvin Manhoef on March 31, 2012 at ONE Fighting Championship 3 which was to be held at the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Kallang, Singapore but the two sides were unable to agree on a weight and he instead became the wrestling coach in Wanderlei Silva's team on The Ultimate Fighter: Brazil.

Sobral returned to action in the main event of ONE FC 4 on June 23. He defeated Tatsuya Mizuno at ONE FC: Destiny of Warriors in Kuala Lumpur, via an armbar submission in the first round. The stoppage came less than a minute into the first round.

Bellator Fighting Championships

Sobral faced Combat Sambo Russia National Champion Mikhail Zayats on January 17, 2013 at Bellator 85. He lost the fight via TKO in the first round.

Despite the loss, Sobral competed in Bellator's Light Heavyweight summer series tournament on Spike. He faced Jacob Noe in the opening round of a 4-man tournament at Bellator 96 on June 19, 2013. Sobral lost when the referee stopped the fight for a standing TKO. After the fight, Sobral announced his retirement from MMA.

Metamoris III

Dean Lister and Renato Sobral fought to a draw at Metamoris 3 a submission only jiu-jitsu match.

Metamoris VI

Chael Sonnen and Renato Sobral fought to a draw at Metamoris 6 a submission only jiu-jitsu match.

Personal life

Sobral and his wife Natasha have two daughters named Maria Fernanda and Sophia, who was born in May 2009. He has both their names tattooed on him.

His nickname comes from a brand of bubblegum that he used to chew (Bubbaloo).

In October 2008 he opened his own gym, Gracie Barra Cerritos, in Cerritos, California.

In 2010, his gym changed to Babalu's Iron Gym, in Cerritos, California.

Sobral was awarded his Brazilian jiu-jitsu 2nd Degree Black Belt on May 2013 from Roberto “Gordo” Correa – 5th degree black belt by FJJ in Rio de Janeiro.

Appeared in the video Still I Rise by the American heavy metal band Shadows Fall.

Championships and accomplishments

Mixed martial arts

  • Strikeforce
    • Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship (One time)
  • Fighting Network RINGS
    • 1999 RINGS King of Kings Tournament Runner-up
  • International Fighting Championships
    • International Fighting Championships Light Heavyweight Tournament Winner

Amateur wrestling

  • International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles
    • 2001 Pan American Championships Senior Freestyle (6th Place)
  • Confederação Brasileira de Lutas Associadas
    • Brazil Senior Freestyle National Championship (1998)

Mixed martial arts record

See also

  • List of male mixed martial artists
  • Ultimate Fighting Championship
  • Mixed martial arts

External links

  • B.I.G. (Babalu's Iron Gym)
  • Professional MMA record for Renato Sobral from Sherdog Edit this at Wikidata

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