The long-time MMA veteran and former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, Bobby Southworth, put his belt on the line on Friday night against Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Renato "Babalu" Sobral. Although UFC vet Sobral was the heavily favored fighter prior to the championship bout, Southworth impressed his hometown fans by outgrappling the Brazilian throughout all of the first round.
Nevertheless, Babalu defended himself well both standing up and even when he was thrown to the mat. The former UFC fighter used his elbows as part of his gameplan to stop the very powerful Southworth. With under a minute remaining in the fight, one of Babalu’s elbows connected with Southworth forehead. The wound produced two separate cuts, one on his eyelid and the other one on his forehead right above his eye. "Big" John McCarthy came back from retirement to ref at the Strikeforce event and did a good job to temporarily stop the fight so that doctors could come in and check out the cuts. Although Southworth was allowed to continue with 10 seconds remaining in the fight, the match was completetly stopped after doctors re-checked the cuts.
Bobby Southworth is disappointed with the outcome, but understands that things like this can happen in mixed martial arts competition. Both fighters showed mutual respect for one another and Babalu even agreed to a rematch if Southworth ever wanted one:
“I tried to take him down but couldn’t…He took me down, but I was confident in my submissions…(in regards to a rematch)–anytime, anywhere…I’m here now…It’s my belt. Come and get it."
Bobby Southworth responded:
“Obviously I’m disappointed…Every time you lose a fight you’re disappointed. I thought I was
winning the fight and then to lose on a cut, I don’t feel like I’ve
lost the title. I’d like a rematch. Babalu’s a legend. I think outside
of the UFC, he’s the top light heavyweight in the world. It was an
honor to fight him…The first cut came from a head-butt, The second came from an elbow. We clashed heads one more time…But when you get old your head opens up easier…Everybody for the past five weeks has been commentating on how good I look, I’m not a bodybuilder. I’d rather look like Fedor [Emelianenko] if I would fight like Fedor (Emelianenko)…It’s just unfortunate. I thought I was winning the fight and then I got cut. What are you going to do? I’m always in the gym, always training…As you watch the sport evolve, you’ve seen the evolution of certain
fighters that are elevating their game. Everybody has a strength and
conditioning coach. They have a nutritionist. I’ve always had people
that worked me out, people that have certifications. But I’ve never
really had real kinesiologists or nutritionists put together a
nutrition package and be there working me out four days a week. I had
that for this fight…I’ve said many times that you can’t really complain about stoppages…The officials are in there and their primary concern is your safety. As
a fighter, we’ll fight to the death. Thankfully this isn’t ancient
Rome. And there are people in there to stop it before the lions eat us
alive…I can’t complain. It’s just unfortunate…I definitely would like to fight a rematch…What’s the point of fighting somebody below (Sobral’s) status? My main concern is to get my belt back. When you lose on a cut, you
don’t feel that you’ve been beaten. You still feel like the belt is
yours. And I still feel that way…I know ‘Babalu’ is the champ. And he’s already stated he’ll give me a rematch. Hopefully that will happen as soon as possible."