by Ken Pishna – MMAWeekly.com
Strikeforce light heavyweight champion Renato “Babalu” Sobral will face Gegard Mousasi at Affliction 3 on Aug. 1 in Anaheim, Calif.
The bout was initially announced by M-1 Global on its website on Monday. MMAWeekly.com subsequently confirmed the bout with Sobral’s manager, Richard Wilner, who said, “It will be a light heavyweight bout, not a catchweight.”
Mousasi had originally planned to fight Vitor Belfort in a catchweight at the event, dubbed “Trilogy,” confirming the bout on the M-1 Global website last week. The bout had apparently been talked about, but Belfort did not want to move up out of his new home at middleweight, while Mousasi has repeatedly stated that he can no longer make the 185-pound limit.
Sobral has been on a roll as of late, winning five straight bouts, including the capture of the Strikeforce light heavyweight championship from Bobby Southworth last November. He most recently defeated Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou at Affliction’s sophomore effort in January.
Sobral had been in plans to face Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante for Strikeforce on June 6, but had to withdraw due to familial considerations. Wilner says that Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker has been nothing short of “wonderful” to work with, and has “always been a man of his word” in supporting big fights such as this. Plans now call for Sobral to return to Strikeforce shortly after Affliction 3 to defend his title.
Considered one of the top middleweight fighters in the world, Mousasi recently vacated the Dream middleweight championship and made the move out of the weight class to fight in Dream’s openweight “Super Hulk” tournament, defeating Mark Hunt in the first round of their quarterfinal bout. He weighed in at 218 pounds for that bout, but will have to come back down to 205 for the fight with Sobral.
The bout is expected to be officially released later this week at press conferences in New York and Los Angeles confirming the Aug. 1 event. No. 1 ranked heavyweight Fedor Emelianenko is set to face No. 2 ranked Josh Barnett in the main event of Affliction “Trilogy.”