Bellator signs Babalu for Season 8
After a flirtation in 2011, Bellator and Renato "Babalu" Sobral finally have hooked up.
Sobral (37-9 MMA, 0-0 BFC) is the latest addition to the Bellator Fighting Championships roster. The promotion on Friday announced the signing of the veteran to its light heavyweight roster, where he ie expected to be a part of the Season 8 205-pound tournament.
And though it's too late for a potential showdown between Sobral and former middleweight champion Hector Lombard, who has moved to the UFC, the promotion expects big things from its new signee.
"Babalu is an awesome addition to the Bellator family," said Bellator Chairman and CEO Bjorn Rebney stated. "He's beaten some of the greatest fighters in the sport and poses a tremendous threat to every fighter in our light heavyweight division. From a fan's perspective, heís incredibly exciting to watch, and Iím expecting big things from Babalu in January on Spike."
Sobral in late 2011 was part of negotiations with Bellator, and the talk at that time was for a superfight against Lombard. The two trained together briefly earlier in their careers, where a rivalry and apparent rift began. But Lombard earlier this year left Bellator to sign with the UFC, taking that superfight now off the table.
Sobral has fought just once since a December 2010 knockout loss to Dan Henderson in Strikeforce, but that fight was a 31-second armbar submission win over Tatsuya Mizuno at ONE FC 4 in June. Sobral's resume includes a 6-4 record in the UFC, 2-2 in Strikeforce and 2-0 in Affliction. His losses have been to a who's-who in the sport, including Fedor Emelianenko, Henderson (twice), Chuck Liddell (twice), Gegard Mousasi and Kevin Randleman. His first loss to Liddell, at UFC 62, was for the light heavyweight title.
Over a nearly 15-year career, Sobral's wins include submissions of Chael Sonnen, Mauricio "Shogun" Rua, Cyrille Diabate, Travis Wiuff and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou.
"I'm really happy to be a part of the Bellator family," Sobral stated. "This is my new home, and I canít wait to get into the tournament. My only wish was that it could all be in one night, but I donít think we can do that. So Iíll just put one more tournament under my belt, and Iím going to take this opportunity and get my shot at the Bellator world title."
Bellator's seventh season kicks off Sept. 28 with Bellator 74. It is not yet known if Sobral, who is recovering from a hand injury, will compete in Season 7 or will wait until Season 8, which also will be the promotion's first season on Spike TV. That season begins in January 2013.