After suffering his third TKO loss in four fights, Babalu Sobral (37-11) hung up his gloves after falling to Jacob Noe at Bellator 96. Age and the injury bug seemed to finally catch up with the veteran Brazilian fighter. I was asked recently by a couple readers where he fell in the history of MMA.
Babalu was a solid submission grappler who loved to kick box, sometimes maybe a little too much. If there were yearly all-star teams in MMA, Babalu would have earned spots on the 2003 and 2005 teams. So I guess you could say he would belong in the "Hall of the Very Good" but not quite the "Hall of Fame."
Babalu went 4-0 in 2003 defeating Marcelo Azevedo (8-8) in Heat FC 1 before entering the IFC Global Domination light heavyweight tournament on September 6, 2003 in Denver, Colorado. Babalu ran the table, defeating UFC veteran Trevor Prangley (30-9) via decision, submitted then undefeated former UFC champ Mauricio "Shogun" Rua (21-7) via guillotine choke then defeated well traveled UFC vet Jeremy Horn (89-21) via decision.
Babalu had a solid 2004, winning a decision over Brazilian MMA pioneer Jose "Pele" Landi Jons (27-15), then tapping out UFC veteran Cyrille Diabate (19-9). In 2005 Babalu submitted Pierre Guillet with punches in Cage Rage, before entering the UFC and submitting Travis Wiuff (68-18) via armbar and title challenger Chael Sonnen (27-13) via triangle.
Babalu's streak would come crashing to an end in 2006, when Chuck Liddell iced him with a highlight reel head kick finish. Babalu's return fight somehow ended worst, as he got KO'd by Jason Lambert. In his most infamous and bloodiest bout, Babalu would comeback to defeat David Heath (18-7) with an anaconda choke that was held a second or two too long. The incident would earn Babalu his walking papers from the UFC. All in all, Babalu had a solid career.
(Babalu following the choke)
Babalu would catch on with Affliction and Strikeforce, where he notched big wins over Robbie Lawler, Sokoudjou and Mike Whitehead. Throughout his career, Babalu seemed to only lose to top fighters. He notched some career defining wins. Babalu will continue teaching at his California based gym, the next time you see, he might be coaching the next up and coming prospect.