Archive for Renato Babalu Sobral

Affliction Officially Announces Fedor vs. Barnett, Mousasi vs. Sobral with Press Conferences in New York, Los Angeles

Posted in Affliction, Features with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 6, 2009 by jaytan716

Clothier-turned-fight promoter Affliction held back-to-back press conferences in New York and Los Angeles this week, officially launching the promotional campaign behind “Affliction: Trilogy,” headlined by Fedor “The Last Emperor” Emelianenko vs. Josh “The Babyfaced Assassin” Barnett.  The PPV event is scheduled for August 1st at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA.

In the co-main event slot, reigning Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion Renato “Babalu” Sobral will face former DREAM Middleweight champion “Gegard “Young Vagabond” Mousasi, who recently submitted Mark Hunt in the opening round of the DREAM Super Hulk tournament.

“People said we wouldn’t be here after the first event.  Well, we were.  We had a second event, and it was a bigger card than the first. . . Once again, we’re back, and with a card that’s . . . actually better than the first and second event,” proclaimed Affliction VP and matchmaker Tom Atencio.

Promotional partner Roy Englebrecht added “I think the reason why we’re here today . . . is the fact that we’re seeing, in my estimation, the greatest mixed martial arts heavyweight fighter of all times, trying to do something for the third time: beat three former UFC heavyweight world champions.  First show, Tim Sylvia.  Second show, Andrei Arlovski.  And now, standing in his way, is another former UFC champion, and he was the youngest – Josh Barnett.  The trilogy . . . doesn’t happen very often, can happen on August 1st.”

The Los Angeles press conference was short and sweet, with brief, generic comments from Sobral, Mousasi, and Emelianenko about their respective matches.  Each fighter was respectful, almost to a fault, of their opponents, and indeed, Atencio, Englebrecht, and M-1 executives Joost Raymond and Vadim Finkelstein almost seemed to play microphone hot potato, as if nobody wanted the spokesman responsibilities.  Barnett, who prides himself on having studied the interview skills of pro wrestling personalities, was notably absent, apparently due to transportation problems.

Ever the man of few words, Emelianenko, through his translator (and M-1 USA VP of Legal Affairs) Steven Bash, simply said “I’d like to thank everyone for inviting me out again and giving me the opportunity to fight on a world-class level.  I expect the fight with Josh to be very exciting and I promise you a wonderful show.”

One of the more burning topics of conversation was that of Affliction’s future as a fight promotion.  Although there was discussion that the “Trilogy” moniker indicated a planned finality to promoting MMA after August 1st, Atencio steadfast denied any intentions to quit.

“Our future isn’t undetermined. I’ve always said that we’ll take one fight at a time. . .  We came out and made a big bang in the industry. . . [M-1 Global] has been doing this for a long time, and I couldn’t ask for better partners than them. . . I’ve learned a few things and I’ve made some mistakes, myself and my partners.  We take that and we move forward and we correct those mistakes.  And that’s what we’re looking to do,” said Atencio adamantly.

M-1 Global President Vadim Finkelstein, also through translation, echoed the sentiment, saying “I’m very proud and honored to have partners such as Affliction.  Together, what we’ve done is we’ve come together to build a worldwide MMA company, and utilize both of our resources and put together many products and projects all over the world, culminating in what will be and is the biggest fight in mixed martial arts.  This will be the best fight this year and many, many years.”

Another recurring subject of debate was the ongoing standoff with the UFC and promoter Dana White.  Keeping true to form with Affliction’s prior two events, an invitation was extended, via M-1 Global COO Joost Raymond, to White and his two reigning heavyweight champions, Brock Lesnar and interim champ Frank Mir, to attend “Trilogy.”

“They are all very cordially invited to come and watch . . . And ultimately we can follow up, in the same lines as what the UFC has done for Mr. Mirko Cro Cop, in a one-fight deal . . . We’d like to make that happen.  So, again, we can bring out the true champions and the best fights available for all.”

Mousasi is a former DREAM Middleweight champion who recently declared his intent to move up to light heavyweight, claiming he no longer is able to make the traditional 185 lb. limit.  In May, he submitted Mark Hunt in DREAM’s Super Hulk tournament, giving up 63 lbs to the Kiwi kickboxer.

Mousasi was originally expected to face Vitor “The Phenom” Belfort, a former light heavyweight (205 lbs.) who now fights at middleweight.  However, in an interview with Tatame.com, Belfort denied any intention to fight at anything above 185 lbs., suggesting that Mousasi’s lack of name value and challenge makes going up in weight not worth his effort.

“I don’t know if he turned it down.  I heard, because I had received the contract, I had signed the contract, that I would fight him.  I thought he had the contract.  He received also the contract, so I thought he knew about it.  But obviously he says he didn’t, so I cannot say. . . Because he’s a middleweight, so I cannot say ‘come up and fight light heavyweight.’  I thought he knew about it,” explained Mousasi.

“I think Babalu is a very big challenge.  I still have a very tough fight,” he added.

Other matches listed in the press materials were Tim “The Maine-iac” Sylvia vs. Paul “The Headhunter” Buentello, “Big” Ben Rothwell vs. the unbeaten Chase Gormley, Chris “The Polish Hammer” Horodecki vs. Dan “The Upgrade” Lauzon, and Jay ‘The Thoroughbred” Hieron vs. Paul “Semtex” Daley.  The undercard, which includes the Horodecki-Lauzon and Hieron-Daley fights, will air live on HDNet.

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Strikeforce, Showtime Launch “MMA 2.0” With Shamrock-Diaz Fight

Posted in Strikeforce with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2009 by jaytan716

LOS ANGELES, CA – Showtime Senior Vice President Ken Hershman dubbed it “MMA 2.0” as the cable premium and Strikeforce, the San Jose-based mixed martial arts promotion, unveiled their future plans and main lineup for their April 11th event, “Strikeforce: Shamrock vs. Diaz,” at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

The event, which will air on Showtime live from the HP Pavilion in San Jose, CA, is headlined by the self-proclaimed “Legend,” Frank Shamrock vs. Stockton, CA bad boy Nick Diaz. Keeping in tune with Strikeforce CEO Scott Coker’s M.O. of promoting fights based on local grudges and rivalries, the pairing sets Diaz up to avenge the March 2006 loss of his mentor, Cesar Gracie. Shamrock knocked Gracie out in 21 seconds in the main event of Strikeforce’s debut MMA show, which, at the time, set a record for the largest MMA attendance in North America (18,265). It also pits Stockton and San Jose against each other in something of a “Battle of Northern California.”

“We’re starting over again. I can’t tell you how excited I am. . . I feel invigorated and refreshed,” Hershman commented. “Just in the few short months that we’ve been dealing with them, everything has come together perfectly for April 11th.”

“Today is a great day for the MMA industry, and today is a great day for Strikeforce,” said Coker. “I really feel that at this point there is no better company in the world to do this than our company. We are built for this, we are suited for this, and we’re going to get the job done.”

As both Shamrock and Diaz were introduced to the press for photos, neither was at a loss for visual communication. Diaz, moving towards Shamrock for the traditional fighter pose, motioned for a handshake, only to raise his hand up at the last moment and salute Shamrock with a middle finger. Shamrock smiled at the gesture, returning the sentiment by grabbing his crotch towards Diaz. The visual exchange popped the crowd, which seemed to be anxious for fireworks.

Perhaps sensing the winds of fan sentiment painting Diaz as the rebellious anti-hero, Shamrock shifted into straight-man mode, criticizing Diaz’ behavior and demeanor as being a poor representation of mixed martial arts. For his part, Shamrock painted himself as the modest martial artist, announcing “I apologize to my fans in advance. You’re not going to see any more antics from me. No more sleeper moves, no more crazy-looking stuff. I’m just going to smash people and make a few dollars, and put my girl through college.”

Complementing the marquee grudge match will be a championship bout for the Strikeforce lightweight title, as champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson and Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez meet in a rematch from June 2008. In their previous bout, Thomson controlled Melendez at will in a five-round war that saw “The Punk” walk away with the belt. Quite unlike the showmanship and antics that color the main event, Thomson and Melendez share a strong mutual respect for each other, due in no small part to their previous years together as training partners.

Thomson predicted “I think the first fight was something where we showcased all of our skills. I think the second fight is going to be something where we’ve tweaked it and we’re going to showcase our new skills . . . Both people have a lot to prove. . . Gilbert, I’ve said this 100 times in every interview, is somebody I admire, I look up to.”

“I’m really actually dreading this fight,” he joked.

Melendez was all business as he discussed the match saying “my goal this fight is to show everybody that I’m better than my last fight. . . Josh fought great, but I just want to walk in, I want to look across and I want to let him know that he’s gonna have the toughest fight of his life. I’m gonna prove to everyone that I’m a real warrior and I think I’m gonna be the champ again.”

In total, ten matches are scheduled for the night, with five matches expected to air that night on Showtime. Besides Shamrock-Diaz and Thomson-Melendez, Showtime viewers will see Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith vs. Benji “Razor” Radach and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos vs. Hitomi “Girlfight Monster” Akano. A fifth match had yet to be solidified, but Coker commented that he was circling a match for Brett “Grim” Rogers to fill out the card.

Looking towards Strikeforce’s May event, Coker also announced the main event of Jake Shields, moving up in weight, to fight “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler at the 185 lb. division. Ironically enough, both Lawler and Shields were reigning EliteXC champions when ProElite, Inc. closed its doors in October of last year, with Lawler at middleweight and Shields at welterweight. Both men were part of the 42 different EliteXC fighter contracts which Strikeforce bought from ProElite, Inc. last month.

“I’m super happy to be a part of this. I think some really big things are going to happen with this. With all the new fighters he’s signed, the TV deals. . . I think Strikeforce is going to be the next big show. I’m glad to be a part of it,” Shields commented.

Hershman also confirmed a revised announce team for Strikeforce events, reuniting several familiar faces (and voices) from EliteXC and ShoXC. CBS and Showtime play-by-play veteran Gus Johnson leads a team that includes EliteXC / ShoXC commentator Mauro Ranallo, “The Fight Professor” Stephen Quadros, Frank Shamrock, and decorated MMA veteran “The Croatian Sensation,” Pat Miletich. For April 11th, the team will consist of Johnson, Ranallo, and Miletich, who has done commentary on Fox Sports Net and HDNet.

When asked about the status of two of the larger stars included in Strikeforce’s purchase of EliteXC fighter contracts, Kimbo Slice and Gina Carano, Coker summarized that talks with the respective fighters’ managers were ongoing, and that he hoped to solidify deals imminently.

Also on hand to show support for the upcoming Strikeforce event was Strikeforce Light Heavyweight champion Renato “Babalu” Sobral and Strikeforce Middleweight champion Cung Le.