Esther Lin for Sho Sports

Renato Sobral reflects on his combat sports career and talks about his decision to retire from the sport of MMA following his loss to Jacob Noe at Bellator 96.

Former Ultimate Fighting Championship No. 1 light heavyweight contender Renato Sobral retired from his mixed martial arts (MMA) fighting career last week following a third round technical knockout (TKO) loss to Jacob Noe at Bellator 96 in Thackerville, Oklahoma.

The defeat marked “Babalu’s” second straight loss and the fourth of his last six bouts.

The 16-year veteran’s combat sports career took him all over the world, which saw him face off against the cream of the crop in the MMA world including Dan Henderson, Mauricio Rua, Fedor Emelianenko, Gegard Mousasi and former UFC 205-pound champion Chuck Liddell on two separate occasions.

After getting the boot from UFC in 2007, thanks to his refusal to let go of an air-tight anaconda choke he had on David Heath at UFC 74, Sobral competed for Affliction, Strikeforce and ONE FC before eventually making his way to Bellator.

But after failing to obtain a win in his two fights with the Viacom-owned promotion, Sobral decided he had enough of the hurt business and wanted to go out on his own terms, rather than have someone else tell him it was time to walk away.

In fact, in his interview with Bloody Elbow, Renato says his decision to step away from the fight game was made before his loss to “The Psycho.” A stoppage he obviously didn’t agree with.

His words:

“I thought they stopped it way too soon. Jacob was on the other side of the cage. It is what it is, and the referee called it a finish. I got a little bit pissed off right away, because I didn’t understand why he stopped the fight, but then I realized that whatever I did wasn’t going to change anything. That was his call. I have to respect his decision. I thought the call was a little too soon, but it is what it is. The good thing about this is that I chose when to retire. My decision was made before I ever stepped in that cage. Nobody retired me. I retired myself. I’m clear with my thought. I’m clear with my mind. I made peace with myself and with my fans. I left the cage just fine. I don’t see me ever coming to the cage again as a fighter. I can go back in as a coach or maybe a referee, a person in the crowd, but not as a fighter. No more.”

Despite having ups and downs throughout his career, including the aforementioned David Heath incident, his title fight loss to “The Iceman” at UFC 62 and losing his 205-pound Strikeforce strap to “The Dreamcatcher” in 2009, Sobral says he has no regrets.

And, regardless of any past transgressions, he feels he helped the sport of MMA and will continue to do so in the years to come.

He explains:

“I am very happy with my career. You know, I made my mistakes, but I still think I helped the sport to be where it is today. I started fighting when there weren’t many rules and no time limits. Then the rules came along, and I adapted to those. I’ve fought in rings and cages, with different rules across many countries. I think my passion and love of this sport helped it grow. 10 or 15 years will pass from now, and I’ll still be fighting for this sport. It will just be outside the cage. I plan to be active in some way for many years.”

In parting, he thanks his fans for their support:

“Thank you very much for following me throughout my career. I’m sorry if I have disappointed anyone for mistakes that I have made in my life. I hope you understand that everything I’ve done in my life wasn’t pretending or fake. Everything was 100-percent honest and true and made with my heart. Thank you for being there for me.”

“Babalu” leaves MMA with a record of 37-11.


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