by Dann Stupp on Aug 13, 2008 at 11:45 am ET
Strikeforce world light heavyweight champion Bobby Southworth (9-5) will make his next title defense against Renato "Babalu" Sobral (30-7) at September's Playboy at the Mansion II event.
Strikeforce Vice President Mike Afromowitz today confirmed the title fight, and other event participants, with MMAjunkie.com (www.mmajunkie.com
In addition to Southworth vs. Sobral, Afromowitz said Strikeforce world lightweight champion Josh Thomson (15-2) and undefeated prospect Billy Evangelista (7-0) have also be added to the card, though the search continues for their opponents.
Strikeforce at the Mansion II, which takes place at the world-famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif., also features a previously announced fight of Joe Riggs (28-10) vs. Kazuo Misaki (20-8-2).
Sobral, a former UFC fighter who signed with Strikeforce following a victory over David Heath at UFC 74, will compete at the Strikeforce show just three weeks before his upcoming Oct. 11 "Affliction: Day of Reckoning"
bout, which could come against Tito Ortiz.
Southworth made a successful title defense in June with a unanimous-decision victory over Anthony Ruiz. It was his third win in his past four fights. He'll now meet Sobral, who's riding a three-fight win streak that included a unanimous-decision victory over Mike Whitehead at Affliction's debut event in July. Sobral, who's won 13 of his past 15 fights, will likely enter the title fight as the favorite.
As we previously reported, Southworth began campaigning for the Sobral fight immediately after his June victory.
"I know that (Strikeforce) signed Babalu," the 38-year-old Southworth said at the time. "I hear he's making his debut at the Playboy Mansion show (in September). Babalu is kind of a legend in the game. ... As my career is maturing, I'm thinking more about the paydays. That's one of the reasons I'd like a step up in competition. You fight the tougher fighters, you get the bigger paychecks, and that's what I want to do."
As for Thomson, who defeated Gilbert Melendez in June to win the lightweight title, Strikeforce officials continue the search for an opponent.
"It might be a Japanese fighter," Afromowitz said. "Then again, it might not be. Things there change all the time."
Afromowitz said Thomson could make a title defense at the Sept. 20 event if "we find a real contender."
Also scheduled for the event is Evangelista, an American Kickboxing Academy lightweight who most recently defeated notable Nam Phan via split decision in June, according to Afromowitz. The victory pushed Evangelista's Strikeforce record to 3-0.
Strikeforce has not yet announced a broadcast partner for the Sept. 20 event, though Afromowitz said an announcement could come within the next week. Regardless of the live broadcast, he said the event could be packaged as a multi-episode "Strikeforce on NBC" special. Earlier this year Strikeforce struck a deal with NBC, and the organization currently airs past Strikeforce fights during its Saturday-night timeslot on NBC.
For the latest on Strikeforce at the Mansion II, including the latest fight card, check out the MMA Rumors section of MMAjunkie.com."