Editorial by Al Yu – MMAWeekly.com
Why do people doubt Randy Couture’s abilities? The better
question is, why did I doubt him?
Twice he’s been the underdog; twice he’s proven people
wrong. Like his previous fight against Tim Sylvia, I was in awe with Couture’s
performance this past weekend.
The “Natural” continued his impressive trek back into the
heavyweight division with a masterful dismantling of Gabriel Gonzaga. Utilizing
a strategy of clinches and short strikes, the UFC legend frustrated his
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt opponent. Gonzaga managed to land a few shots,
including a nice high kick, but was unable to effectively mount much of an
offense against Couture’s suffocating clinches.
Suffering a broken nose in the first round, Gonzaga seemed
to lose his will to win. The injury clearly affected his performance and
eventually led his demise in the third round.
So what’s next for Couture?
It seems that all the champion can do is rest up and wait.
Personally, I don’t feel there are any heavyweight contenders worthy of a title
shot at this very moment. However, things will change in the near future as
potential candidates vie for the opportunity at UFC gold.
Andrei Arlovski – Coming off of an uninspired win over
Fabricio Werdum. Needs to win impressively to be considered a future contender.
Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira – Needs one more solid
victory after a shaky UFC debut.
Mirko “CroCop” Filipovic – Needs to get past Cheick
Kongo and possibly Nogueira.
Cheick Kongo – Needs to defeat Mirko, preferably via
Brandon Vera – Needs to get past Tim Sylvia who should
be his toughest test to date.
Tim Sylvia – Needs to rebound impressively against
Josh Barnett? – Signing him would setup an intriguing
rematch with Couture.
Fedor Emelianenko? – Assuming he signs, I can see Fedor
receiving an immediate title shot.
Two impressive victories over much larger top ten ranked
heavyweight opponents has solidified Randy Couture’s place among the best
Not bad for a 44-year old.
Another Black Eye for the Sport
Disgraceful. Classless. Spiteful. Pathetic.
Following the recent unfavorable steroids press, Renato
Sobral’s actions from last Saturday put the sport back into the negative
spotlight. “Babalu” defeated David Heath with an anaconda choke and refused to
release the hold even after Heath had tapped. Steve Mazzagatti attempted to
break the hold as Sobral looked the referee in the eye and continued to punish
his opponent. Heath was left unconscious.
Sobral and Heath shared a heated confrontation at the
weigh-ins the previous night. The two fighters stood close, touched foreheads
and exchanged a few words and expressions.
The original publication of this article included an
inaccurate statement that David Heath wore a T-shirt with Sobral’s mug shot on
it in an effort to get under Sobral’s skin. Heath DID NOT wear such a T-shirt.
In fact, he was wearing a shirt representing his sponsor Warrior Wear and it
had no reference whatsoever to Sobral. MMAWeekly would like to apologize to
David Heath and his camp for the error and any unwarranted attention that it
reflected upon David Heath.
The Brazilian fighter admitted in his post-fight interview
that he held the choke longer in spite of his opponent. Executive Director of
the Nevada State Athletic Commission Keith Kizer plans to hold half of Sobral’s
fight purse, which equates to $25,000. A later NSAC hearing will address
Renato’s actions and potential repercussions.
To me, the best way to retaliate to an opponent’s taunts and
gestures is to defeat him thoroughly in competition. “Babalu” did just that.
The former title contender was in control for the majority of the fight and
opened a big cut on Heath that left the mat discolored. Holding the choke at
the end was unnecessary and blatantly put his opponent’s health at risk. What
Sobral did was inexcusable and this type of flagrant behavior should not be
There are no double standards here. It doesn’t matter if he
held the choke long for 3 seconds or 6 seconds. David Heath tapped and the
fight was supposed to end immediately. “Babalu” looked right at Steve
Mazzagatti and continued to choke Heath even after Mazzagatti tried to pry his
arms away. It was an iniquitous display of poor sportsmanship.
MMA has evolved. Royce Gracie may have gotten away with this
behavior in the early days of the UFC, but it is completely unacceptable today.
The rules were established for a reason and fighters are responsible for their
actions. A fighter’s safety is paramount and Sobral ignored the rules that were
created to protect them.
I expect the NSAC to follow through with a stiff fine and a
mandated vacation. Moreover, I think the UFC should consider making an example
out of “Babalu” and issue an additional punishment. Harsh? Hardly for a fighter
who openly admitted about his bad intentions.
Sobral has disgraced the sport. He disgraced his team and
Ultimately, he disgraced himself.