Next weekend, Affliction will be officially entering the fight game with a star-studded card, with names such as Fedor Emelianenko, Tim Sylvia, Andrei Arlovski, Josh Barnett, Pedro Rizzo and Ben Rothwell. This could be the fight card of the year for fans and one fighter in particular is making his return to the ring.
After his exodus from the UFC, canceled fights, frustration and almost nine straight months of training; Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral took some time to talk with Five Ounces of Pain about his upcoming fight at Affliction: Banned against Mike Whitehead, training, Lyoto Machida and his desire as a competitor to fight.
Dave Carpinello: How did the training go for the upcoming fight?
Babalu Sobral: Great, slowing down, the hard part is done.
Dave Carpinello: What do you know about your opponent; Mike Whitehead?
Babalu Sobral: He is an IFL veteran that has been around for a while. He is a good wrestler and he comes from a very good camp. I expect a very good fight.
Dave Carpinello: Do you see any advantages that you may have going into the fight?
Babalu Sobral: I trained a long time for this fight, I am hungry and healthy. I think that my submission game is going to be a big factor in the fight.
Dave Carpinello: How excited are you to finally have a fight that is not going to get canceled at the last minute?
Babalu Sobral: Yeah man, those last two times were bad. The first one in January was tough for me because it got canceled five hours before the fight. After that one my fight in HCF was canceled and so lately I haven’t wanted to answer the phones so that I don’t get any bad news. No matter who was calling me, whether it was my manager or my friends. I didn’t want to answer and I definitely didn’t want to look on the internet. If something happens and this fight next week doesn’t happen, then I’m going to go to the Army or something. I’ve been training for so long it has been kind of frustrating but everything seems to be in line with this fight and so hopefully there are no surprises. This fight is going to be great, the card is great and I am very happy to be a part of it. I can’t wait to fight and get back to my seat so that I can watch all of the other great fights that night.
Dave Carpinello: It is definitely the best heavyweight card I have ever seen.
Babalu Sobral: Yes, even the preliminary fights could be main card events. I think the whole show was good to be very exciting.
Dave Carpinello: Training with [Josh] Barnett, you must listen to some metal; Are you a MEGADETH fan?
Babalu Sobral: Yes, I have been listening to them since like 1986 or 1987. I am a hard-core metal fan and I’ve been listening to them for a long time. I’m very excited that they are playing at the show. I don’t know if they are playing before or after my fight but I’d definitely like to be in the stadium to see them. It would kick ass if I got to fight right after they played. I really can’t wait for Saturday the 19th to get back in the ring and fight again in front of all the fans.
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Dave Carpinello: I couldn’t agree more. So everything health-wise is great and you’re ready to go?
Babalu Sobral: Everything is perfect in my weight is right at 205, so I don’t have to worry about cutting weight.
Dave Carpinello: Yes, I could imagine after training for nine months straight that you’d probably be pretty close to fighting weight by now.
Babalu Sobral: Yes it is going to be great because I will not have to sit my ass in the sauna for four or five hours next Friday. My training is fucking hard-core right now, from my boxing – sparring, jiu-jitsu (at Gracie Barra) and my overall training with Josh Barnett. He is amazing, strong and he trains very hard.
Dave Carpinello: Is Josh pretty amped about his fight against [Pedro] Rizzo?
Babalu Sobral: Yes and I can’t wait till after my fight so I can be in his corner for his fight. Josh is a monster!
Dave Carpinello: When I talked to Josh a couple weeks ago he said that “we’ll be Damaged Incorporated and go out there and bust some heads open”.
Babalu Sobral: Exactly. [laughs] We have both been training very hard. Josh, just fought two months ago and then had a pro-wrestling match about a month ago. That is how the old fighters like to do it. The ‘Pond’ where they are having the Affliction event is right by my house and I drive by it every day to go to training. And so every day I think about what I’m going to do in that arena when I fight their next week. This fight is going to be in my backyard.
Dave Carpinello: So obviously you are hoping to have more fights this year after this one.
Babalu Sobral: I want to get back on track, both winning and fighting. I do not like to be away from fighting for as long as I had to be this time. I am from the old days; I could fight every month if they would let me.
Dave Carpinello: Did you sign a multi-fight deal with Affliction?
Babalu Sobral: I did and so I should also be fighting on their second and third card.
Dave Carpinello: With about a week left; what preparation do you have left?
Babalu Sobral: Just rest, everything is in line; may be some shadowboxing and just try and get back my energy from all of the hard training. No hard sparring any more, no hard training anymore, just stay healthy. It is better to take it easy than to be sorry, anything can happen and I don’t want any kind fluke injury to occur that would cause me to miss this fight. If I could just lock myself in my house and wait for the fight I would.
Dave Carpinello: Last time we talked, we stirred up a little controversy. Regarding Lyoto Machida and Tito Ortiz, Machida recently beat Ortiz. Have you guys talked recently?
Babalu Sobral: I’ve trained with Machida a couple of times recently and he is getting better and better. He should be getting a title shot against Forrest Griffin; I don’t see anybody left to challenge him. It would be great to see him fight for the title because he beat Tito, he beat Sokoudjou, for me he is the number one contender.
Dave Carpinello: What about a Machida – Wanderlei Silva match-up?
Babalu Sobral: Wanderlei lost to Chuck [Liddell] and only has one win on his back so far in the UFC this time. Maybe if he fought and won one more fight, than the match-up would make more sense. The winner of the Rashad Evans and Chuck fight will also be in title picture, so it is going to be interesting to see the match-ups. I would like to see Wanderlei against Quintin Jackson again.
Dave Carpinello: Who did you think won the fight between Jackson and Griffin?
Babalu Sobral: What can I say? To beat the champion you have to really beat the champion. It did not happen in that fight, Forrest barely won the fight. He won the fight but he did not beat the champion…. like four rounds to one or five rounds to none. As far as the rules are concerned though, he won three rounds and now Forrest is the champion. Both of those fighters deserve to be champion. That was a pretty cool fight though! Both fighters looked like they were having a good time out there.
Dave Carpinello: Back to your event next week; besides your fight what other fight are you really looking forward to seeing?
Babalu Sobral: All of them, almost any fight on that card could be the main event.
Dave Carpinello: Cool, is or anything else he wanted to add?
Babalu Sobral: Not much, thanks for the interview and I hope all the fans are watching the great event next weekend.