UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator Veteran Renato 'Babalu' Sobral Retires from MMA

Damon MartinContributor IJune 19, 2013

photo courtesy of MMAWeekly.com
photo courtesy of MMAWeekly.com

With a career that spanned nearly 16 years competing in MMA, Renato "Babalu" Sobral said goodbye to the sport on Wednesday night after suffering his second straight defeat in the Bellator cage.

The former Strikeforce champion retired after a loss to Jacob Noe in the opening rounds of the latest light heavyweight tournament, being stopped in the third and final round by TKO.

The fight moved Sobral's record to 2-4 over his last six fights, but during the biggest part of his career, the Brazilian grappler was consistently ranked as one of the top 10 light heavyweights in the sport.

Starting out his career all the way back in 1997, Sobral fought all around the world, battling some of the best in the MMA game, including names like Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson.

He finally landed in the UFC in 2000 and fought there on and off for the next seven years.

One of Babalu's crowning achievements in the sport actually happened outside the UFC in 2003 when he entered the IFC: Global Domination tournament.  It was a one-night tournament throwback to the early days of the UFC when fighters would routinely compete two or three times on a single card.

On that night, Sobral had to battle through three different opponents to win the tournament crown.  He defeated Trevor Prangley and Jeremy Horn by decision, and finished future UFC and Pride champion Mauricio "Shogun" Rua by guillotine choke. 

He was the first fighter to ever hand Rua a defeat.

As the years passed, Babalu remained relevant in the division going as far as winning the Strikeforce light heavyweight title in 2008, but it wasn't long after that where the battles he endured over the years started to catch up with him.

Following a loss to Dan Henderson in Strikeforce in 2010, Sobral left the sport for a year-and-a-half after a snowboarding accident left him injured and contemplating retirement.

Once again, the tough-as-nails Brazilian refused to give up and returned with a victory in his lone appearance as part of One FC in Asia with a win over Tatsuya Mizuno.  That now stands as Sobral's last victory before he would sign with Bellator and lose the last two fights of his career by TKO.

At 37 years of age, Sobral retires with a 37-11 record overall, having fought in the UFC, Strikeforce and Bellator during the course of his career.

Damon Martin is a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report.