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Babalu edges out Lawler, Noons busts Heun up at “Strikeforce: Los Angeles”

LOS ANGELES (June 16, 2010) – Former STRIKEFORCE light heavyweight champion Renato “Babalu” Sobral (36-8) may have earned a shot at current STRIKEFORCE 205-pound titleholder Muhammad “King Mo’’ Lawal after capturing a close, unanimous three-round decision over “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (17-6) on a special Wednesday night presentation of STRIKEFORCE Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) on SHOWTIME®.

But Babalu, who narrowly outpointed Lawler in a main event fought at a catch weight of 195 pounds before 5,259 fans who produced a gate of $418,061 at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE, may need a little time to decide if he’ll take the fight with his good friend.

“This is something I will have to think about,’’ said Babalu, who triumphed by the scores of 29-28 three times. “Yes, of course, I want to be a champion again but I’m old school and he is my friend and friends last longer than title belts. But we’ll see.’’

In other televised results, Brazil’s Evangelista Cyborg (18-13) registered an impressive 2:38, first-round knockout over DREAM welterweight champion Marius “The Whitemare” Zaromskis (13-5); American military hero Tim Kennedy (12-2) of Austin, Texas, made quick work of South African Trevor Prangley, winning by 3:35 first-round submission (rear-naked choke); and former world champion KJ Noons (9-2) of San Diego, Calif., outlasted Conor “Hurricane’’ Heun (8-4) of Hollywood, Calif., by way of Boulder, Colo., via split decision in a non-stop-action lightweight thriller that opened the telecast.

The first-ever STRIKEFORCE event scheduled for mid-week took place in the midst of the E3 Expo, the premier trade show for computer and video games. During E3 Expo 2010 at the L.A. Convention Center, EA SPORTS™ will exhibit its highly anticipated title, EA SPORTS MMA, in which STRIKEFORCE is featured as a premier league.

Besides deciding if he wants to fight King Mo, Babalu will need to take off some time for the severe cuts around his left eye to heal. Lawler, meantime, who exited the ring seemingly unmarked, may want to re-think his decision to feign an injury in the second round that he hoped would lure Babalu, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu specialist known for his submissions, into a standup shootout.

“I wasn’t hurt, I just wanted to make him think I was,’’ said Lawler, who suffered damage to his body from a multitude of front kicks. “It was a ploy, a decoy, for him to fight me so I could knock him out.

“I’m disappointed with the result, but I have no complaints. The two takedowns in the first round may have been the difference. I know that I could have done much more. I should have done more.’’

Cyborg, the husband of women’s superstar Cris Cyborg and a member of the famed Chute Box Academy, was ecstatic after handling Zaromskis his second consecutive defeat.

“I am very happy with my performance and this fight,’’ the male Cyborg said. “I’ve had so many first-round knockouts. I can’t say if this was the best, but it was definitely one of the best.

“I want to fight (STRIKEFORCE world welterweight champion) Nick Diaz. He’s the fighter I want more than anybody right now.’’

The super-aggressive Kennedy, a United States Army Special Forces sniper with the 19th Special Forces outfit based in San Antonio who has earned the Army’s Bronze Medal Star medal for valor under fire, made it four victories in a row and 12 of his last 13.

“I don’t go the distance. In fact, I’m totally against going the distance,’’ Kennedy said. “I’m happy with the end result. He hit me with a good uppercut; that stuff’s not supposed to happen. I have some of the greatest hands in the sport. I just want to start fighting the kinds of opponents I can knock out and start a highlight reel on. I’m tired of fighting wrestlers.’’

Noons, a prolific striker and the last fighter to defeat Nick Diaz, praised Heun at bout’s conclusion.

“He’s a very game guy who brought it the whole fight,’’ said Noons, won by the scores of 29-28 twice and 27-30. “I definitely feel I won the fight and I really wanted to please the fans, but I had to work for it. I haven’t used my legs in a while so if felt good to get in some leg kicks.’’

A bloodied Heun felt he’d done enough to get the nod. “I wanted to fight one of the top guys to prove to everybody that I could compete with the top ones, and I think I did that tonight,” he said. “But I’m very disappointed with the decision. Only one judge scored the fight.

“I feel I did more than enough to win although the cuts were definitely a factor. By the third round, I was aiming my punches at the guy in the middle.’’

Wednesday’s bouts will re-air as follows:

Tuesday, June 22, at 10 p.m. ET/PT SHOWTIME 2

Mauro Ranallo called the action on SHOWTIME with MMA expert Stephen Quadros and MMA legend Pat Miletich serving as expert analysts.

Wednesdays non-televised results: Jeremy Umphries (5-1), Los Angeles; submitted (rear-naked choke) ESPN radio host RJ Clifford (3-2), Los Angeles, at 2:27 of the second round; and Hugo Sandoval (2-2), Riverside, Calif., TKO 2 (strikes, 0:42) over Marcus Koval (2-1), Los Angeles.

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