Ortiz, “Babalu” Come Face-to-Face


Tito Ortiz. Photo courtesy of TitoOrtiz.com.

The unspoken dislike between former UFC light heavyweight champion Tito Ortiz and Renato “Babalu” Sobral may have been turned up a notch on Saturday night after the two exchanged words in the crowd during Strikeforce’s “Shamrock vs. Diaz” event in San Jose.

During an intermission before the televised portion of the card was to air on Showtime, Sobral approached Ortiz and the two began exchanging words, possibly concerning a proposed fight between the two that was once expected to take place under the Affliction banner last year but never came to fruition.

Once “Babalu” became visibly heated and didn’t seem to be content to leave Ortiz alone, fellow veteran fighter Joe Riggs came over and separated the two. Sherdog.com has a brief clip of the incident.

Ortiz was a special guest of Strikeforce founder Scott Coker at the event’s post-fight press conference, where he discussed the possibility of himself fighting for the San Jose-based promotion later this year after he recovers from recent back surgery.

“I’m about six months out now,” Ortiz said. “I have about a month and a half before I’ll be allowed to start wrestling again. I want to thank Scott [Coker] and company for believing in me and potentially giving me a chance to fight on CBS, and on Showtime, and maybe even a pay-per-view. I see “Babalu” flapping his lips and that might be a debut fight.”

Werdum Possible for Overeem Title Defense

Just days after Strikeforce heavyweight champion Alistair Overeem revealed that he would be defending his title at the promotion’s June 6 show in St. Louis, the part-time kickboxing star could already have a possible opponent - former UFC standout Fabricio Werdum.

During the post-fight press conference for last night’s event, Overeem was asked who he would like to face in his next Strikeforce bout, prompting Werdum to approach the stage and lay down a challenge to Overeem, who he defeated at a PRIDE event in May 2006.

“I am very happy with the opportunity to be [with] Strikeforce,” Werdum said. “It will be a real pleasure if the opportunity is to come and I can fight [Alistair]. We fought two years ago. If the opportunity comes, I will be very happy to have the fight.”

It’s key to note that despite Overeem’s claims, Coker has stated that a June date for his next Strikeforce bout is certainly not set in stone, nor is Werdum as his opponent. Undefeated heavyweight prospect Brett Rogers also expressed interest in a fight with Overeem at the press conference.

Contract Talks Still Ongoing With Carano

Despite being extremely close to a done deal, Scott Coker says that he has yet to sign female MMA star Gina Carano to an official contract. The longtime martial arts promoter hopes to ink Carano to a deal at some point this month.

“We’re currently negotiating the final touches of the contract,” Coker said. “Hopefully we’ll put it to bed here during the next two weeks. Maybe even next week. Either way, I think we’re very close and I’m confident. We’re looking forward to having Gina back.”

A bit of buzz was created during the press conference when Coker admitted that along with Showtime and CBS officials, a fight between Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos, who was victorious over Hitomi Akano at Saturday’s show, is currently being targeted for a yet-to-be-announced event in August.

““I think we’re very close to that,” Coker said. “That’s going to be for the first Strikeforce women’s title belt. We’re shooting for August. I think all sides did a great job of trying to make this fight happen and I feel like we’re the ones that are lucky enough to get to promote it.”

“Shamrock vs. Diaz”: By the Numbers

Saturday night’s event was almost a sell-out and drew 15,211 fans to the HP Pavilion in San Jose, California for Strikeforce’s first event of the year. The gate has not yet been officially announced by the California State Athletic Commission but is expected to be just short of $1 million.

The Showtime telecast will be replayed on two separate occasions later this month. The event will be replayed in full on Wednesday, April 15 and Tuesday, April 23. Both broadcasts will air at 10 PM ET on Showtime.

A number of celebrities were also in attendance at the event and were shown on the Showtime telecast. Notable figures included actor Mickey Rourke, UFC Hall-of-Famer Royce Gracie, former UFC heavyweight champion Andrei Arlovski, former EliteXC title holders Jake Shields and Robbie Lawler, and Strikeforce middleweight champion Cung Le.

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