by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Renato “Babalu” Sobral lost to Chuck “Iceman” Liddell at Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) 40: “Vendetta” in November of 2002, but hasn’t lost since. On August 26th, the two will square off again, except this time the UFC Light Heavyweight Championship will be on the line.
It was announced at UFC 61: “Bitter Rivals” that Liddell will finally get the fight he has been wanting for years, a fight with Pride Middleweight Champion Wanderlei Silva in November provided he can get past Renato Sobral at UFC 62.
The question has been asked, are Liddell and the UFC looking past “Babalu?” Are they counting their chickens before they hatch?
“I’ll be taking those fights one day at a time. I’ve got Babalu first, and that’s the one I’m worried about,” Liddell told MMAWeekly.
Asked if he was looking past Babalu, Liddell replied, “I would never do him the disrespect of looking past him. He’s a tough fighter, and he’s not an easy guy to knockout. I mean, obviously, he had never been knocked out. I knocked him out, but I caught him with a good kick, and he wasn’t out cold. The guy has won ten fights in a row since then. He’s a great fighter. Don’t get me wrong, I plan on knocking him out in this fight, finding a way, but I don’t think it’s going to be easy.”
With the biggest fight in mixed martial arts history looming in the balance, the biggest fight in Liddell’s career is the one at hand.
Liddell stated, “The possibility of actually getting to fight Wanderlei actually motivates me to train a little harder to get ready for this fight. I think Babalu is a tougher fight for me than Wanderlei. I’m going to train hard for him, and I’ll be ready for him.”
There’s a lot of pressure on the UFC Light Heavyweight Champion to win this fight. Not only is his belt at stake, a loss would most likely end his quest to enter into battle with Wanderlei Silva, throwing a monkey wrench in the plans for the first ever real mixed martial arts world championship bout.
Liddell has never lost a rematch, but “Babalu” intends to change that on August 26th, and spoil the future plans.