Renato Sobral hasn’t been seen in the cage since a December 2010 loss to Dan Henderson but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t kept himself busy. In addition to teaching the next generation of fighters at his gym in Cerritos, California, “Babalu” also spent some time working with Mauricio “Shogun” Rua in preparation for his bout this weekend against Forrest Griffin.
In a recent conversation with Brazilian publication Tatame, the 36-year old spoke about the time he’s spent with Rua in addition to his aspirations in the future including a return to the ring before year’s end.
“I’m sure he’ll be different from his last performance,” Sobral said of his former opponent Rua. “’Shogun’ is that old ‘Shogun’ from PRIDE we all know. He came back to his origins. He’s training with us and Rafael (Cordeiro) back in California, and it’ll be just happiness Saturday.”
“He’s a great athlete, I’m a personal fan of his, and he’s on the right track to regain UFC’s title,” the popular light heavyweight concluded on Rua.
Like “Shogun,” Sobral is in Brazil for UFC 134 and offered his perspective on the changes he’s seen there in terms of MMA’s popularity.
“First of all, it’s really different than the last time,” Sobral started with a laugh. “Now it’s different – now we’re on a different level and we deserve it, but it’s all thanks to many people, like Pedro Rizzo, Renzo Gracie, Royce Gracie, Amaury Bitetti, me… Many people were responsible to do the necessary job to bring the sport to the level it currently is.”
“It’s really surprising,” he continued. “I guess that despite everything we’ve done, there’s one person who’s most responsible for this change – Anderson (Silva). His success brought the sport to a whole new level.”
As far as his own success, Sobral explained that he wants to fight again soon and is waiting for Strikeforce to finalize their September 10 card before making a move, but that he also understands he can only compete for so long at a high level and has recently focused on teaching others as much as training himself.
“Adrenaline is addictive, but then you learn to enjoy teaching and follow closely the improvement of other people, and that’s the work I do with the kids. I train as an athlete, but I do a development work along with the kids and I see kid who didn’t have self-confidence and then after they started training Jiu-Jitsu they changed completely, and that’s really rewarding.”
PHOTO CREDIT – STRIKEFORCE