When Renato “Babalu” Sobral defeated Robbie Lawler in June, he immediately took to the microphone and called for a fight against former Pride champion Dan Henderson. It wasn’t the typical “calling out” process by some fighters looking to settle a grudge, Sobral just wanted a chance to answer a loss on his record from fighting Henderson all the way back in 2000.
He’ll get his chance on Dec. 4 as Strikeforce headlines the Showtime card with Babalu against Henderson in the main event in St. Louis.
Sobral’s manager, Richard Wilner, spoke to MMAWeekly.com about the fight, and his client’s wish for the match-up that had nothing to do with retribution, just an opportunity to answer questions left over from their last encounter.
“Babalu made a point to when he ‘called Dan out’ after the Lawler fight. He meant it with the utmost respect,” Wilner said. “Because he and we as a team have great respect for Dan and what he’s accomplished, but we’re super excited that Strikeforce is giving us this opportunity for Babalu to attempt to avenge a loss which he’s thought about for a number of years.”
The fight will be Henderson’s second for Strikeforce. His first was a loss to former middleweight champion Jake Shields, who after defeating Henderson made his move to the UFC. Now returning to 205 pounds, Henderson will get a tough welcome back to the division in the form of Renato “Babalu” Sobral.
With their fight headlining the December card, it would come as no surprise that the winner would likely vault to near the top of the list of contenders as a possible first fight for new Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante.
If that’s what Strikeforce is looking to do so be it, but according to Sobral’s manager, he wanted the fight for one reason and one reason only… to fight and defeat Dan Henderson.
“From a promotional mindset, and this is just an opinion, I believe Strikeforce sees it as a title elimination fight with whoever wins would be the natural to fight Feijao for the title,” Wilner stated.
“For us, it doesn’t add any pressure or change anything because we respect the title, and understand the significance of it. However, we don’t train to fight for titles. Babalu doesn’t want to fight Dan so he can fight for the title. Babalu wants to fight Dan because he wants to fight Dan.”