Tito Ortiz is preparing to rematch Ken Shamrock for the third, and everyone hopes, final time. With a third victory, he has already been guaranteed a title shot at current UFC light heavyweight champ Chuck Liddell on December 30th. Part of his training regimen seems to be taking a few shots at Renato “Babalu” Sobral, and Sobral is not happy about being used as a punching bag.
Ortiz commented on Sobral in a recent column by the Orange County Register’s Carlos Arias, “Renato Babalu is not really as good as they try to make him to be. They kind of painted the picture more of what they think. I think that was a typical fight for Liddell. That fight will go the same way each and every time. The first time went 2 minutes and 30 seconds and this one went 1 minute. Renato Babalu is not really that great a fighter. He’s a great ‘B’ fighter and an average ‘A’ fighter. He’s not at the level of (Randy) Couture or Liddell or myself.”
Of course Sobral – who had strung together ten victories in a row prior to his shot at Liddell; including an inhuman run through Trevor Prangley, Mauricio “Shogun” Rua, and Jeremy Horn all in one night – was upset by the remarks and wanted to respond.
Through his manager, Sobral sent the following retort to MMAWeekly.com, “I earned my title shot after my results in the Octagon. I won my way up to the title shot against Liddell and Tito has his fight guaranteed on a contract. I won my way up with 10 wins in a row with the last three being at the UFC by submission. Tito had two victories at his two recent UFC fights with the judges helping him… very controversial results, not convincing!! Even though I believe it’s impossible, I really hope Tito beats Liddell because it will be easier to smash his face and get the title from him instead of Liddell.”
After the recent loss to Chuck Liddell, Sobral is the #6 light heavyweight fighter in the MMAWeekly Rankings, while Ortiz is right behind him at #7.
With the current state of the UFC’s light heavyweight class, even if Ortiz does get his shot at Liddell and happens to win the title back, Sobral will most likely have to win another fight or two himself in order to get another shot at the belt. Plus, he would probably have to wait out a rubber match between Ortiz and Liddell. But it would add a certain amount of much needed drama to a division that is currently in transition.