(Photo courtesy of StrikeforceUSA.net.)
One of the most unfortunate aspects of Tito Ortiz‘s bizarre negotiation cock-up with Affliction is that it’s jeopardizing his grudge match with Renato “Babalu” Sobral, the Brazilian UFC vet who would love, love, love to kick the crap out of him. After Sobral’s impressive unanimous decision over Mike Whitehead last month at “Affliction: Banned,” a meeting between Babalu and the Huntington Beach Bad Boy seemed inevitable. Right now, the only thing that’s certain is that Sobral will be fighting Bobby Southworth on September 20th for Strikeforce’s light-heavyweight championship, and he’s currently training hard to be worthy of the belt. Our own Luiz De Souza chatted with Sobral recently about Ortiz, Strikeforce, and the real story behind his unique nickname.
CAGEPOTATO.COM: First of all, how likely is it that we’ll see you face Tito Ortiz in Affliction?
RENATO SOBRAL: I don’t know when that fight will happen. It’s not up to me — if it was, I would have beaten his ass yesterday.
You’ve said that facing Tito would be your “dream fight.” Why is that, exactly?
First of all because he said that I am a “C-class fighter,” then he went on to say that I am a third-world country fighter. It would be a pleasure for me to kick his ass.
What do you think of him as a person?
Well…he is a good fighter. But it would be my pleasure to send him to hell.
If you two fought, how do you think the fight would end?
Whatever way in which the ending is me sending him to hell.
The salaries for some of the fighters at the first Afflicton show were incredibly high — do you feel like you were underpaid compared to guys like Ben Rothwell, Matt Lindland, or some of the other headliners?
I don’t really comment on money. Some make more money; others who are just starting make less. I have nothing to complain about.
How has Affliction treated you, compared to some of the other promotions you’ve worked for?
I’ve been treated very well by everyone, and I have nothing to complain about. I am a professional. Fighting is a business — the show doesn’t have to be the fighter’s father and mother.
Your next fight will be against Bobby Southworth for the Strikeforce light-heavyweight title. Do you see this as a tough fight for you?
A fight is always difficult, everyone is dangerous, and every minute of every round is hard. I am training for this fight like I train for every fight. I fight for the belt, for myself, and for Brazil.
What’s your training like these days?
I train three times a day. I wrestle at Santa Ana College in California, I practice jiu-jitsu at Gracie Barra. I also do some cardio, boxing, lifting weights, and swimming. I’ve been training really hard because I have a fight coming up. Right after a fight I take a week off and then two weeks only lifting weights. It is all planned accordingly.
Of your seven career losses, which one would you most like to avenge?
There’s a couple. Jason Lambert is one of them. There are fights that I think, “Damn I could have won this one if I had done one thing differently.” There’s also Valentijn Overeem — a fight like that one I say, “Fuck, did I really lose? I messed up, I could have won.” But what can I do? Now I have to train harder so that it doesn’t happen again.
What do you like to do for fun when you’re not training?
I play with my daughter, I surf, and now I do some bike riding too.
How did you get the nickname “Babalu”?
The nickname was given to me by a friend when I was 11 years old. It is the name of a chewing gum. I used to wear red shirts which resembled the gum’s wrapper. Your nickname is not something you can change — the more you dislike it, the more people will call you that to make fun of you. Here in the U.S. people have nicknames like “the killer” or “the assassin,” but it’s different in Brazil. Their nicknames are things like “big head” and “owl’s face.” You don’t get to pick your own. This nickname was given to me, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
Thanks so much for your time, Renato. Would you like to give a shout-out to anyone before we sign off?
I want to thank Hitman, Metal Mulisha, and Rockstar. Also my family and my manager Richard Willner.