MMA Flashback: Sobral Beats Southworth For Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Title

By Ross Everett

Renato Babalu Sobral defeated Bobby Southworth by TKO to become Strikeforce light heavyweight champion in the co-main event of the promotions ‘Destruction’ card. Despite leaving with the belt around his waist, it wont be the centerpiece of Babalu’s highlight reel with the way it transpired.

A -350 wagering favorite despite his challenger status, Sobral was expected to use his world class Brazilian Jiu Jitsu skills and vast experience against superior competition to dominate the tough but limited Southworth. It didn’t happen that way, as Southworth easily got the better of things in the first round. Southworth’s style isnt exactly one that provides Wanderlei Silva type excitement–he looks to use his strength and conditioning to control his opponent en route to a decision victory. While the result makes him something of a MMA equivalent to boxing’s John Ruiz, it does afford him the best chance of victory.

The first round displayed Southworth’s style in microcosm, with much of the frame spent pushing Babalu up against the cage or on the ground inside his guard not really doing much. Sobral had one effective strike the entire round–during a clinch against the cage wall the challenger rocked Southworth with a hard elbow strike that not only busted his nose but opened a huge cut over his right eye.

Upon seeing the gusher of blood Referee John McCarthy brought the ringside physician over to take a look. The doctor took some time to examine the cut, but eventually the round resumed following the consultation with only a few seconds remaining. As Southworth’s corner futilely worked on the gaping wound during the break the doctor once again took a look and better realizing the severity and placement of the cut recommended to McCarthy that the fight be stopped. The veteran official complied, awarding Sobral the TKO victory and the championship belt.

The other half of the co-main event was decided in much more decisive fashion as Scott Smith knocked out well traveled veteran Terry Martin in a mere :24 seconds. Martin didn’t adequately close the distance against a fighter dubbed ‘Hands of Steel’ and was caught with a perfectly placed punch that knocked him out cold.

In the semifinal event, Duane ‘Bang’ Ludwig defeated Yves Edwards by unanimous decision in a very closely contested bout. Edwards was originally slated to face lightweight champion Josh Thomson until a toe injury necessitated his withdrawal. Ludwig took the fight on two weeks notice, and after a takedown clinic by Edwards in the first began to control the fight with his superior standup skills. Edwards’ superiority on the ground in the first two frames wasn’t enough to sway the judges who obviously favored Ludwig’s more effective striking.

Earlier in the evening, Kim Couture made short work of overmatched Lina Kvokov as she TKOd her foe in 1:44 of the first round. Couture, the wife of UFC legend Randy Couture, gained even more notoriety for the courage she displayed in her professional debut last June. After having her jaw broken early in the first round, she refused to throw in the towel and went the distance despite a horrific injury. She had a much easier time here–despite the fact that both fighters entered with 0-1 records Couture was significantly more polished as she put Kvokov on the defensive from the outset with her sharp punching combinations. Kvokov kept displaying the rookie mistake of trying to turn away from Couture’s blows. The reprieve was only temporary, however, as Couture launched another barrage of punches prompting the referee to step in and wave off the non-competitive affair.

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