The highly-anticipated showdown between Renato “Babalu” Sobral (35-8) and Gegard Mousasi (25-2-1), which was suddenly cancelled by its original promoter last week, has been revitalized and will be contested with Sobral’s STRIKEFORCE World Light Heavyweight (205 pounds) Championship on the line at San Jose, California’s HP Pavilion on Saturday, August 15.
The title bout will be featured during the SHOWTIME televised portion of the STRIKEFORCE: “Carano vs. Cyborg” mixed martial arts (MMA) mega-card.
“I am very happy that STRIKEFORCE has resurrected this fight and that I will have the opportunity to become STRIKEFORCE world champion,” said Mousasi, who is in the midst of a monstrous, 12 fight win streak. The 23-year-old was crowned the first Dream Middleweight Champion and Middleweight Grand Prix Tournament Champion last year in Japan.
“STRIKEFORCE is one of the world’s top promotions and I am proud to be a part of their roster of world-class fighters,” he said.
His wins over Denis Kang, Melvin Manhoef, and Ronaldo Souza last year cemented Mousasi’s place as one of the world’s top three middleweights.
Mousasi’s last victory, a first round (1:20) submission of former K-1 heavyweight champion Mark Hunt in Yokohama, Japan on May 26th of this year confirmed his desire and ability to conquer opponents in a heavier weight class as did his first round (2:32) KO of Japanese heavyweight champion Musashi in a K-1 kickboxing rules bout in Saitama, Japan on December 31, 2008.
The 33-year-old Sobral, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and former national wrestling champion for Brazil, will defend his STRIKEFORCE championship for the first time since he seized the title from Bobby Southworth at HP Pavilion on November 21, 2008.
Sobral, a former UFC championship challenger, is riding a five fight win streak that began with his second round (3:30) submission of David Heath at UFC 74 on August 25, 2007. In his last start, he submitted Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou with a brabo choke in the second round (2:36) of their meeting at Affliction: “Day of Reckoning” at Honda Center in Anaheim, California on January 24 of this year.
A year and a half ago, Sobral relocated from his homeland to Orange County, California where
he has since taken on former world championship boxing contender Justin Fortune as a trainer in order to bring his striking skills up to par with his expertise in submissions.
Over the course of 43 career starts, Sobral has faced and defeated some of the sport’s best competitors including legendary K-1 and UFC champion Maurice Smith. On Sept. 6, 2003, Sobral knocked off three top-tier rivals-Jeremy Horn, Mauricio “Ninja” Rua, and Trevor Prangley-during a single-elimination tournament.
In the main event on August 15, mixed martial arts’ (MMA) leading lady, the undefeated and extremely popular Gina “Conviction” Carano (7-0), will square off with rival powerhouse Cris “Cyborg” (7-1) in what is one of the most eagerly anticipated battles of all time.
Carano and Cyborg, the consensus two best female fighters in the world, will be the first women in MMA history to headline a major MMA fight card. In addition, they will fight for the first STRIKEFORCE 145-pound Female Championship.
STRIKEFORCE World Lightweight (155 pounds) Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson (16-2) will set out to defend his crown against Gilbert “El Nino” Melendez (15-2), the man whom Thomson dethroned by way of unanimous decision at HP Pavilion on June 27, 2008.