by Matt Hill – MMAWeekly.com
“I think you can expect an absolute barn-burner. Babalu doesn’t have much back up in him and I don’t have any in me, so you’re going to see two guys go out there very hungry and try to do their thing,” said David Heath of his upcoming fight with Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral at UFC 74.
With a professional record of 7-0 and two consecutive UFC victories under his belt, David Heath was certainly an up-and-coming fighter for fans to keep an eye on. With an exciting energy inside the Octagon and a skill-set that afforded it, Heath seemed destined to be a UFC superstar.
Had Heath kept that same winning momentum for a few more fights, his next steps would likely have been into the Octagon for a title fight with the head of the 205-pound division. As the unfortunate time comes in most everyone’s career, though – see Georges St. Pierre and Diego Sanchez – Heath’s momentum and perfect record were on a crash course with destiny… a crash course – thanks to Ryoto Machida – that would end for Heath with an ugly smudge in a previously unscathed loss column.
Ryoto Machida may be most well known among MMA enthusiasts as the first man to beat former middleweight champion Rich Franklin – a short list recently subscribed to by Anderson Silva as well. But for UFC newcomers, Machida is probably a relative unknown. With a perfect 10-0 record and multiple wins over top MMA athletes, Machida is far from a new face in MMA, though.
Ryoto has fought and beaten such UFC fighters as Stephan Bonnar, Rich Franklin, B.J. Penn, Vernon White, Sam Hoger, and of course, David Heath.
Heath also has time and again proven his talent as a fighter, but when push comes to shove – as it did in England at UFC 70 – David Heath wasn’t on his game that night and Ryoto Machida was. The unbeaten Machida handed Heath his first loss, and unsurprisingly, David took his less-than-stellar performance rough.
In a recent interview with MMAWeekly’s SoundOff Radio, Heath discussed his first professional MMA loss and also his training for his upcoming fight with Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral.
Regarding the Machida fight, David said, “Right after the fight, I’ll admit, I was a little fragile there for a little while. Not because I lost, but because I wasn’t able to do some things that I wanted to do and [I] really had a disappointing performance for myself and for everybody else, so I was kind of beside myself about it for a little while.”
But after the hurt, shock, surprise… and perhaps headache, wore off, Heath came to the realization that to continue to better himself he must persist on moving onward and upward. The loss must be viewed as experience, but not one that is dwelled upon.
David said of the loss, “I got over it and it’s back to business as usual. Honestly the loss hasn’t factored into my training at all in a negative light. I feel great and I’m putting the past in the past and I’ve got a big obstacle in front of me, so that’s what I’m concentrating on.”
Even though David is stepping in against a top-level fighter in this contest, he has yet to fight on a UFC main card. If he ever hopes to earn the chance to fight on PPV, though, Heath will need to be on his game for this fight. A victory over Sobral will hurl the young fighter up the ranks in the light heavyweight division, while a loss could rob him of his UFC dreams forever.
David said, “Yeah, I definitely feel a lot of pressure.”
The good news, though, is that the pressure won’t totally be on him; it will also be on ‘Babalu,’ the likely favorite when these two men step into the cage Saturday night.
Sobral has dropped his last two UFC fights decisively and has often been accused of having suspect conditioning.
Heath has centered a solid game plan around ‘Babalu’s tendencies and said, “I’ve watched a ton of ‘Babalu’ tape.” Heath continued, “I think this is going to be the battle of who’s the toughest, to tell you the truth.”
When asked how he sees the fight playing out in his mind, David said, “Honestly I think Babalu and I are really similar… I think his wrestling is going to be a little better than mine and I think my stand-up’s going to be a little better than his, so, I think that’s what it’s going to come down to.”
So what is Heath’s prediction for Sobral’s demise?
“Hopefully I can get a knockout in the first or second round, but I’m perfectly fine if I don’t. I’m perfectly happy to go out there and have a long, nasty fight just to prove that I can fight with a guy like that,” Heath said.
David Heath faces Renato “Babalu” Sobral this Saturday night at UFC 74 in Las Vegas.