So we learned yesterday that Dana is dropping Babalu from his contract. Fightlinker is, as usual, correct in his assessment of the situation -- Dana sacrificed Babalu to the "press gods."
But other, more earnest souls are still debating the rights and wrongs, even as Babalu humbled himself before the NSAC and apologized to Heath.
Here's one view from the MMA Analyst:
Here's another take from view from CraveOnline:
As in all contact sports, there are stated rules and then there are unstated ones. If you break the first it's the officials who punish you, but if you break the second your opponent will be the one who lets you know about it.
Don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying any of this is to be encouraged. We can't have fighters ignoring tap outs, requiring the referee to dive in and stop chokes or armbars like some primitive zookeeper. Sobral violated one of the primary understandings that fighters enter into the cage with, but his was more a breach of etiquette than a crime against humanity.
If he really wanted to teach Heath a lesson he could have declined to apply the choke at all and instead continued to pound on his already bloody face. He could have kept the fight going much longer than necessary just to make a show of his dominance.
Muhammad Ali did it - more than once - when opponents continued to call him Cassius Clay. His battering and taunting of Ernie Terrell for fifteen rounds is now a part of boxing lore, but that kind of repeated head trauma is far more dangerous than an Anaconda choke.
My point here is that pro fighting is a violent, dangerous business to begin with, and it can easily become more so if you give your opponent extra reasons to want to hurt you.
Sobral's transgression was ignoring the tap out from his opponent, but it came after his opponent's transgression outside the Octagon. Both men were wrong in what they did, and both have suffered consequences.
Maybe it's time to let it go at that, and hope every other MMA fighter has learned from this example - both sides of the lesson.
"First off, if you're going to provoke somebody then they now have a little extra incentive to come after you. That's something you created and if the NSAC wants to fine or suspend, they're going to make their decision. But I think it's really ridiculous to put him to the floor and treat him like that when Dana, if he's really hip to MMA and he's used to follow it then he knows what's going on, and he's just trying to play a part in the media to make the CYA real happy at the expense of Babalu.
"Should he have done that? No, I don't think he should have. Plus, with all the blood everywhere and the very dominating performance he put to David Heath, it made it look even worse. But it's not just a simple matter of this guy was trying to hurt him. And you know what? People pass out all the time from refusing to tap and nobody faults them for that. It's certainly within their own control.
"If I remember, B.J. Penn held a choke long on Jens Pulver and we don't see him getting released from his contract?"
As much as I sympathize with this view, the sport just isn't on a firm enough footing to let Babalu play heel. Jerkoffs and whiners are already throwing a big log of Babalu on the "MMA is worse than dogfighting" fire.
So where does this leave Babalu? The Prophet offers a pretty grim prognostication:
Sobral was arrested in July for trying to rough up a bouncer at a Florida casino. This incident placed him on a slippery slope with the UFC, so his termination following his behavior at UFC 74 isn't exactly a shock.
My hunch was that Sobral was attempting to revive his career by trying to adopt a pro wrestling inspired "bad guy" persona. If his goal was to make the fans hate him it seemed to work since he was booed ruthlessly after the match. He got a more negative reaction than Kobe Bryant's appearance on the video screen. If Sobral was trying to make himself the "heel" with his actions it clearly backfired--it doesn't matter how much the crowd hates you if you don't have a job.
His immediate future will be determined at a Nevada Athletic Commission hearing tomorrow. I'm thinking he'll be suspended, but even if he's not his career prospects aren't particularly rosy at the moment. He's a mediocre fighter at best at this point in his career, and there's not an MMA organization on the planet that wants to put up with a malcontented head case unless he's got the skills to justify it. He might wish that he hadn't roughed up that bouncer in Florida since that's likely his best vocational option in the near future.
As for me, I'm bummed that I have to pretty much agree. I'm a huge fan of Babalu's but he's probably seen his best days and sadly for him the 205lb division is the weight class the UFC has most locked up. Who's out there for him to fight even if he does sign with K1 Heroes or Elite XC? There are tons of tough young guys in Brazil that would love to make their name knocking off Babalu. My guess is he'll be fighting Vitor Belfort in Cage Rage before too long. That wouldn't be so bad I guess. It's just sad that match didn't take place ten years ago when it would have electrified the MMA world.
It's also lame that he fought for the UFC for so long and never faced Tito. or Randy. And since he was faithfully working for Dana at a time when most of the top Brazilian talent was in PRIDE, we never got to see him fight Wanderlei either. or Rampage. or Henderson.
Guess we'll never see that rematch with Shogun either.
Oh well, there's always Matt Lindland...