Hungry Like a Wolf: Babalu vs. Sokoudjou

Renato Sobral. Photo property of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Seal Beach, CA — There is only one meaningful question to ask about the upcoming fight between Babalu and Sokoudjou: will it be won by strikes or submission? Renato “Babalu” Sobral (31-7) and Rameau “The African Assassin” Sokoudjou (5-3) will meet on January 24th at Affliction M1 “Day of Reckoning” at Honda Center in Anaheim to engage in battle as part of the event’s main card.

The fight pits Babalu’s well-honed Jiu-Jitsu skills and veteran experience against Sokoudjou’s exploding strength and dangerously potent striking skills. Both fierce combatants attack with an animal ferocity that combines technique and heart in a brutal assault on opponents.

Famous for his grappling prowess, relentless fighting style, and high-caliber submissions in the ring, Brazilian import “Babalu” Sobral is a six-foot one, two hundred and five pound Black Belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu who shows no mercy in the ring. Out of the ring, Sobral follows one of the most intense training regimens, ranging from lifting weights (even bench-pressing fellow workout partners), to running up steep mountains, and swimming over 2000 yards in one hour.

A Brazilian National wrestling champion and trained in Ruas Vale Tudo, Sobral is a member of the famed Gracie Barra Combat Team. He is very comfortable in the ring, and has already faced some of the toughest competitors in the sport, including “Day of Reckoning” headliner, Fedor Emelianenko.

A force to be reckoned with, Babalu is coming off of his fourth straight victory — a win over Bobby Southworth that crowned him the new Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion. The match against Sokoudjou will be his second for Affliction, having defeated Mike Whitehead as part of the promotion’s debut in July 2008. With his numerous wins over significant competitors, he will present his opponent with a serious challenge on fight night.

Cameroonian mixed martial artist and Judo practitioner Rameau Sokoudjou is known for his quickness, lethal striking ability, and natural athleticism. Early on in his career, Sokoudjou’s mettle was tested when he was pitted against very high profile competitors. He had been in only three pro fights before debuting at PRIDE® 33 against Antonio Rogerio Nogueira. Nogueira was the heavy favorite, but Sokoudjou KO’d him only twenty-three seconds into the bout.

Fans reeled with excitement over the upset. Soon everyone was eager to see Sokoudjou’s next fight, wanting to find out if he had just landed a lucky punch or

if he was the real deal. But Sokoudjou won his next bout, and quickly found himself one of the most talked about fighters on the scene. “The African Assassin” moved quickly up the ranks due to his impressive early performances in these difficult bouts.

Since then, Sokoudjou, who trains with Dan Henderson’s Team Quest gym, has suffered some upsets that have left fans wondering about his long term prospects. Now, with eight professional bouts under his belt and three loses on his record, Sokoudjou has to prove that he can sustain good performances over the long run. But at only twenty-four years of age, he has plenty of time to do just that.

Both competitors have everything at stake for the January 24th event. Babalu’s career encountered a road bump after a controversial end to a fight in which he held on to a choke too long. Sokoudjou needs to redeem himself from his recent inconsistent performances. Both need to win in order to prove themselves and earn the fans’ continued trust.

Babalu’s unquestioning confidence, ease in the ring, and superior ground skills will be Sokoudjou’s Achilles’ heel, and may lead to his defeat. But if the younger fighter can pace himself and keep up his cardio, he just may score a KO against Sobral with his powerful strikes. Fans can count on these two ferocious competitors to be at their best and to pour their souls into a clash worthy of hungry warriors battling it out for their very existence.


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