Renato Sobral

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Renato Sobral
Renato "Babalu" Sobral.jpg
Sobral at the weigh-in before the Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg event in 2009
BornRenato Sobral da Cunha
(1975-09-07) September 7, 1975 (age 43)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Other namesBabalu
ResidenceGarden Grove, California, United States
Height6 ft 0 in (1.83 m)
Weight202 lb (92 kg; 14 st 6 lb)
DivisionLight Heavyweight
Reach76.0 in (193 cm)
Fighting out ofGarden Grove, California, United States
TeamGracie Barra Cerritos
Kings MMA
Babalu's Iron Gym[1]
Rank     Black belt in Luta Livre
     3rd Degree Black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
     Black prajied in Muay Thai [1][2]
Master of sport in Wrestling
Years active1997–2013
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout5
By submission19
By decision13
By knockout7
By submission1
By decision4
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog

Renato da Cunha Sobral (Portuguese pronunciation: [ʁeˈnatu soˈbɾaw]; born September 7, 1975),[3] 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[1] 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.


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.[4][5]

Mixed martial arts career[edit]

Early career[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.[6] 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."[6] 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."[6]

On August 30, 2007, Sobral was released from his contractual obligations by the UFC due to his actions at UFC 74,[7] with UFC President Dana White calling Sobral's actions "completely unacceptable. This is the fight game and shit happens. But no way can you do what he did."[6] 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."[7] 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.[8]

Strikeforce and Affliction[edit]

After the termination of his deal with the UFC, Renato Sobral was courted by numerous promotions looking to sign him.[8] During the September 29 Strikeforce event at the Playboy Mansion it was announced that Sobral had signed a non-exclusive deal with Strikeforce.[9] It has since been revealed that he signed two more non-exclusive deals with Hardcore Championship Fighting and Xcess Fighting.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12]

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,[13] but the event was canceled after losing its main event.[14] 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.[15] Sobral lost the title to Mousasi via knockout in the first round.

Sobral last fought Robbie Lawler in a 195 lbs Catchweight bout on June 16, 2010 at Strikeforce: Los Angeles.[16] 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.[17]

Sobral's request was later fulfilled and he fought Dan Henderson at Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu II on December 4, 2010.[18] Sobral was knocked out in the first round.

ONE Championship[edit]

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.[19] 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.[20]

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[edit]

Sobral faced Combat Sambo Russia National Champion Mikhail Zayats on January 17, 2013 at Bellator 85.[21] 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.[22] 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.[23][24]

Metamoris III[edit]

Dean Lister and Renato Sobral fought to a draw at Metamoris 3 a submission only jiu-jitsu match.[25]

Metamoris VI[edit]

Chael Sonnen and Renato Sobral fought to a draw at Metamoris 6 a submission only jiu-jitsu match.[26]

Personal life[edit]

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.[27][28][29]

His nickname comes from a brand of bubblegum that he used to chew (Bubbaloo).[27]

In October 2008 he opened his own gym, Gracie Barra Cerritos, in Cerritos, California.[27][30]

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

Sobral was awarded his Brazilian jiu-jitsu 3rd Degree Black Belt on August 2017 from Roberto “Gordo” Correa – 6th degree black belt by FJJ in Rio de Janeiro.[31]

Appeared in the video Still I Rise by the American heavy metal band Shadows Fall.[32]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

Mixed martial arts[edit]

Amateur wrestling[edit]

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 37–12 Jacob Noe TKO (punches) Bellator 96 June 19, 2013 3 3:32 Thackerville, Oklahoma, United States Bellator 2013 Summer Series Light Heavyweight Tournament Semifinal.
Loss 37–11 Mikhail Zayats TKO (punches) Bellator 85 January 17, 2013 1 4:49 Irvine, California, United States Bellator Season Eight Light Heavyweight Tournament Quarterfinal
Win 37–10 Tatsuya Mizuno Submission (armbar) ONE Fighting Championship: Destiny of Warriors June 24, 2012 1 0:31 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Loss 36–10 Dan Henderson KO (punches) Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu II December 4, 2010 1 1:53 Missouri, United States Strikeforce Light Heavyweight title eliminator.
Win 36–9 Robbie Lawler Decision (unanimous) Strikeforce: Los Angeles June 16, 2010 3 5:00 California, United States 195 lb Catchweight bout
Loss 35–9 Gegard Mousasi KO (punches) Strikeforce: Carano vs. Cyborg August 15, 2009 1 1:00 California, United States Lost the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship.
Win 35–8 Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou Submission (D'Arce choke) Affliction: Day of Reckoning January 24, 2009 2 2:36 California, United States
Win 34–8 Bobby Southworth TKO (doctor stoppage) Strikeforce: Destruction November 21, 2008 1 5:00 California, United States Won the Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship.
Win 33–8 Mike Whitehead Decision (unanimous) Affliction: Banned July 19, 2008 3 5:00 California, United States
Win 32–8 Rodney Glunder Submission (arm-triangle choke) Ring of Fire 30: Babalu vs. Glunder December 9, 2007 3 3:31 Colorado, United States
Win 31–8 David Heath Technical Submission (anaconda choke) UFC 74 August 25, 2007 2 3:30 Nevada, United States Later released from UFC for refusing to release submission.
Loss 30–8 Jason Lambert KO (punch) UFC 68 March 3, 2007 2 3:26 Ohio, United States Fight of the Night.
Loss 30–7 Chuck Liddell TKO (punches) UFC 62: Liddell vs. Sobral August 26, 2006 1 1:35 Nevada, United States For the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship.
Win 30–6 Mike van Arsdale Submission (rear-naked choke) UFC 57: Liddell vs. Couture 3 February 4, 2006 1 2:21 Nevada, United States
Win 29–6 Chael Sonnen Submission (triangle choke) UFC 55: Fury October 7, 2005 2 1:20 Connecticut, United States
Win 28–6 Travis Wiuff Submission (armbar) UFC 52: Couture vs Liddell April 16, 2005 2 0:24 Nevada, United States
Win 27–6 Pierre Guillet Submission (punches) Cage Rage 10 February 26, 2005 1 1:57 London, United Kingdom
Win 26–6 Cyrille Diabaté Submission (guillotine choke) Cage Rage 9 November 27, 2004 1 3:38 London, United Kingdom
Win 25–6 José Landi-Jons Decision (unanimous) Jungle Fight 3 October 23, 2004 3 5:00 Manaus, Brazil
Win 24–6 Jeremy Horn Decision (unanimous) IFC: Global Domination September 6, 2003 3 5:00 Colorado, United States
Win 23–6 Maurício Rua Submission (guillotine choke) IFC: Global Domination September 6, 2003 3 3:07 Colorado, United States
Win 22–6 Trevor Prangley Decision (unanimous) IFC: Global Domination September 6, 2003 3 5:00 Colorado, United States
Win 21–6 Marcelo Azevedo Decision (unanimous) Heat FC 1: Genesis July 31, 2003 3 5:00 Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
Loss 20–6 Chael Sonnen Decision (unanimous) Hitman Fighting 3[33] May 2, 2003 N/A N/A Santa Ana, California, United States
Loss 20–5 Chuck Liddell KO (head kick) UFC 40 November 22, 2002 1 2:55 Nevada, United States
Win 20–4 Elvis Sinosic Decision (unanimous) UFC 38 July 13, 2002 3 5:00 London, United Kingdom
Loss 19–4 Kevin Randleman Decision (unanimous) UFC 35 January 11, 2002 3 5:00 Connecticut, United States
Loss 19–3 Fedor Emelianenko Decision (unanimous) Rings: 10th Anniversary August 11, 2001 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 19–2 Tsuyoshi Kohsaka Decision (majority) Rings: World Title Series 2 June 15, 2001 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 18–2 Kiyoshi Tamura Decision (majority) Rings: King of Kings 2000 Final February 24, 2001 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 17–2 Maurice Smith Decision (unanimous) UFC 28 November 17, 2000 3 5:00 New Jersey, United States Heavyweight Bout
Loss 16–2 Valentijn Overeem Submission (toe hold) Rings: King of Kings 2000 Block A October 9, 2000 1 2:19 Tokyo, Japan
Win 16–1 Tariel Bitsadze Submission (armbar) Rings: King of Kings 2000 Block A October 9, 2000 1 2:58 Tokyo, Japan
Win 15–1 Hiromitsu Kanehara Decision (unanimous) Rings: Millennium Combine 2 June 15, 2000 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 14–1 Jacob Zobnin Submission (rear-naked choke) Rings Russia: Russia vs. The World May 20, 2000 1 3:20 Tokyo, Japan
Win 13–1 Travis Fulton Submission (armbar) Rings: Millennium Combine 1 April 20, 2000 1 4:49 Tokyo, Japan
Loss 12–1 Dan Henderson Decision (majority) Rings: King of Kings 1999 Final February 26, 2000 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 12–0 Kiyoshi Tamura Decision (majority) Rings: King of Kings 1999 Final February 26, 2000 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 11–0 Mikhail Ilyukhin Submission (armbar) Rings: King of Kings 1999 Final February 26, 2000 3 0:40 Tokyo, Japan
Win 10–0 Brad Kohler KO (soccer kick) WEF: Goin' Platinum January 15, 2000 2 0:50 Georgia, United States
Win 9–0 Lee Hasdell Decision (unanimous) Rings: King of Kings 1999 Block A October 28, 1999 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 8–0 Zaza Tkeshelashvili Submission (kimura) Rings: King of Kings 1999 Block A October 28, 1999 2 1:11 Tokyo, Japan
Win 7–0 Dario Amorim Submission (punches) BVF 14: Circuito Brasileiro de Vale Tudo 5 July 24, 1999 1 2:14 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Win 6–0 Pedro Otavio Submission (punches) BVF 14: Circuito Brasileiro de Vale Tudo 5 July 24, 1999 1 4:34 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Win 5–0 Augusto Menezes Santos Submission (americana) BVF 14: Circuito Brasileiro de Vale Tudo 5 July 24, 1999 1 0:56 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Win 4–0 Fernando Cerchiari KO (punches) IVC 8: The Road Back to the Top January 20, 1999 1 4:41 Aracaju, Brazil
Win 3–0 Marco Vinicios TKO (retirement) Desafio: Rio vs. São Paulo September 27, 1997 2 4:58 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Win 2–0 Manoel Vicente TKO (punches and stomp) Desafio: Rio vs. São Paulo September 27, 1997 1 6:27 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Win 1–0 Claudio Palma Submission (leg kicks) Desafio: Rio vs. São Paulo September 27, 1997 1 2:08 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Babalu BJJ / Babalu's Iron Gym Cerritos". Retrieved 2010-05-02.
  2. ^ "Gracie Barra Cerritos Instructor Profile".
  3. ^ "Five Knuckles - Health & Fitness for fighters".
  4. ^ Wrobel, Pedro (November 23, 2004). "Renato "Babalu" Sobral Interview". Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  5. ^ "Renato Sobral".
  6. ^ a b c d Iole, Kevin (August 28, 2007). "There should be no room for Babalu's antics". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  7. ^ a b Gross, Josh (August 30, 2007). "Babaloose: UFC Cuts Controversial Fighter". Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  8. ^ a b Gross, Josh (September 24, 2007). "NSAC Fines 'Babalu' 25K". Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  9. ^ Carpinello, Dave (September 30, 2007). "Josh Thomson: After the Mansion". Punch Drunk Gamer. Archived from the original on January 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  10. ^ Perkins, Jason (November 1, 2007). "Renato "Babalu" Sobral Signs With Xcess Fighting". MMA Fightline. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  11. ^ "WCO Hits San Diego". December 27, 2007. Archived from the original on December 29, 2007. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  12. ^ Gross, Josh (January 12, 2008). "Breaking News: Saturday's WCO Event Cancelled". Retrieved 2008-01-12.
  13. ^ "Sobral expected to face Mousasi at Affliction: Trilogy". M-1 Global. June 1, 2009. Archived from the original on June 3, 2009. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
  14. ^ "Affliction Releases Official Statement on Cancellation". The Fight Network. 2009-07-24. Retrieved 2009-07-24.
  15. ^ Smith, Michael David (2009-07-27). "Strikeforce Adds Gegard Mousasi vs. Renato 'Babalu' Sobral Title Fight". MMA Fanhouse. Retrieved 2009-07-27.
  16. ^ "Robbie Lawler vs. "Babalu" Sobral tapped "Strikeforce: Los Angeles" main event". Archived from the original on 2010-05-03. Retrieved 2010-04-30.
  17. ^ Greg Savage. "'Babalu' Beats Lawler; 'Cyborg' Stops Zaromskis". Sherdog.
  18. ^ "Strikeforce: Henderson vs. Babalu slated for Dec 4, Walker in co-headliner". September 22, 2010. Archived from the original on September 25, 2010.
  19. ^ Tabueno, Anton (December 30, 2011). "Asian MMA Update: Babalu Sobral Signs With ONE FC". Bloody Elbow. Retrieved 2012-01-01.
  20. ^ Ganapathy, Kyle (January 31, 2012). "Main Card for Singapore's ONE FC 3 announced". I-S Magazine Singapore. Retrieved 2012-01-31.
  21. ^ "Bellator Premieres Jan. 17th on Spike, Announces Lineups for First Two Cards". Retrieved 2012-12-11.
  22. ^ "King Mo Lawal Slated to Return as Part of Bellator Summer Series Tournament -".
  23. ^ "Bellator 96 results: 'King Mo' Lawal devastates, 'Babalu' Sobral retires". Retrieved 2013-06-19.
  24. ^ "Renato 'Babalu' Sobral Retires From MMA, Returns To BJJ Roots". Retrieved June 20, 2013.
  25. ^ "Metamoris 3: Bravo vs. Gracie Results". Retrieved March 29, 2014.
  26. ^ "'Babalu' Sobral reacts to Metamoris match with Chael Sonnen: 'It was a monologue'". Retrieved May 12, 2015.
  27. ^ a b c "Outside the Octagon"., by Loretta Hunt. 2008-11-21. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
  28. ^ "FOCUSED ON SOKOUDJOU, BABALU BREAKING FOR BABY". 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2009-01-25.
  29. ^ "Following Birth of Daughter, 'Babalu' Refocuses on Busy Fight Schedule". 2009-06-06. Retrieved 2009-08-24.
  30. ^ "Gracie Barra Cerritos".
  31. ^ "Renato 'Babalu' Sobral Awarded 3rd Degree BJJ Black Belt". Retrieved August 23, 2017.
  32. ^ "Still I Rise". Retrieved October 23, 2009.
  33. ^ "Hitman Fighting 3 MMA Event Results".

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bobby Southworth
2nd Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion
November 21, 2008 - August 15, 2009
Succeeded by
Gegard Mousasi