Ok, This is the Really Last Word on Babalu

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:

I agree that the man should pay a fine. Cutting his contract, after a thought process on the matter, is somewhat of a cop out. He can just move on and collect a paycheck from another organization. He doesn't learn a lesson from that. His contract was going to be cut anyways, so he moves on after he chokes a guy out and keeps making money. Basically, his pay was equivalent to losing the match to David Heath. He moves on, no foul. Wrong. He needs to be hit in the pocketbook harder, and he needs to realize that if you do that, you will not fight. I have a feeling we will see a suspension handed down from the NSAC, and that was my initial thought as to what should happen to Sobral. A fine with suspension.

Here's another take from view from CraveOnline:

Even in MMA this kind of thing is nothing new.  It wasn't too long ago that Robbie Lawler took a couple of completely unnecessary shots at an unconscious Frank Trigg in an Icon bout, then implied that he did it because Trigg "had no respect".

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.

Josh Barnett, Babalu's cornerman, not surprisingly agrees:

"I think it's completely overblown and an overreaction. It takes two to tango. Why didn't he release David Heath? Babalu said not a single unkind word about David Heath leading into that fight. Everything was just fine until he decided to get in Babalu's face and call him an MF'er. He provoked the guy. This is someone that's been fighting since the Vale Tudo days of Brazil. Maybe to sportswriters and fans it was a really ugly scenario -- and you know what, if I had known he was going to do something like that I would have told him not to -- but it's not uncommon. It's not something as a fighter -- and I've been in this business 11 years -- I have seen it more than I can count on both hands and both toes. That happens. Things happen.

"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's career has been in a downward spiral over the past year or so. He's a fundamentally talented fighter with a background in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu who was viewed for awhile as a potential superstar. Oddly enough, the apex of his career likely came in a loss when he went the distance with the consensus best MMA fighter on the planet, Fedor Emelianenko. After running off 10 straight victories starting in 2003 he received a shot at the UFC light heavyweight title, then held by Chuck Liddell. He inexplicably decided to trade shots with "The Iceman" rather than try to get the fight to the ground, and the result was a TKO loss in just over a minute and a half of the first round. He lost a subsequent "comeback" fight to talented young Jason Lambert again by TKO.

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...

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