Next week Robbie Lawler and Renato “Babalu” Sobral will share a rare mid-week card at a rare catchweight of 195 pounds. On Wednesday, the two Strikeforce fighters gathered to promote that June 16 event at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.
The reason for the mid-week card? To line up with the Electronic Entertainment Expo. The reason for the comparatively intimate Nokia Theater? Most other area venues were booked.
“We couldn’t throw a big arena show,” Strikeforce president Scott Coker said. “We have two fights on the undercard and a little later start time. It will air 11 p.m. (on Showtime) on the east and west coast.”
The event was originally scheduled to feature Bobby Lashley, but the star heavyweight pulled out due to injury.
As always with Strikeforce press conferences, questions eventually led to Fedor Emelianenko and middleweight champion Jake Shields. Ever the politician, Coker deftly side stepped releasing any new information.
“Should Fedor be victorious (against Fabricio Werdum on June 26), we will sit down with M-1 and try to put (a fight with Alistair Overeem) together,” Coker said.
Shields’ (lack of a) contract status led to speculation a possible middleweight tournament.
“It depends how things shake out with Jake,” Coker said, adding that if a tournament did occur that Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza and Lawer would be the top seeds.
Coker did address the possibility of a cross-promotion fight featuring Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez and Bellator champion Eddie Alvarez.
Bellator president Bjorn Rebney “and I finally talked a week ago,” Coker said. “I let him know the door is always open, but Gilbert is injured right now so there is really nothing to talk about.”
Here are the condensed thoughts of Lawler and Sobral:
(Lawler at the moment of his Scott Smith-like victory over Melvin Manhoef.)
A former EliteXC middleweight champion, “Ruthless” is coming off a knockout win over Melvin Manhoef on Jan. 30. Lawler (19-5) had been rocked early in the fight, before rallying. He is 6-1 with one no contest since 2006.
On beating Manhoef – “I think that was one of my biggest (wins). Everyone knows what kind of striker he is. To knock him out, standing where he is supposedly one of the best in the world, felt good.”
On training for Sobral – “Babalu is a really good opponent. He has fought everyone. I’ve been training the way I normally do. I’m working on all my skills: grappling, wrestling and striking.”
On fighting at 195 – “I’m not worried about my weight. I eat what I want and I’m adding more fluid. If I was going to weight 190, I’d weigh 190. Either way, I’d work hard.”
The former Strikeforce light heavyweight champion, “Babalu” is coming off an unusual 10 month hiatus. His last fight: a loss to Gegard Mousasi in August, 2009. Prior to that, Sobral (35-8) had won five straight. Long considered one of the top grapplers in MMA, Sobal has won 18 bouts via submission.
On the hiatus – “I took a little time off. I was supposed to fight for Dream, but that got cancelled and I had this opportunity. I was able to train a little more and I am very confident.
On training for Lawler – “I’ve been training normally. The only change is because Robbie is a southpaw. I want to get the job done, come back to my house and kiss my family. That’s it.”
On fight frequency – “If I don’t have an injury, I could fight every week. I’ve fought 12 times in a year (1999-2000). Honestly, (I’d fight) every four months. You take two weeks off after fighting and then go back to training. I don’t know if that is possible, but that is the dream.”
On facing a striker – “I lost my last fight, but it was because of a punch in the head. It’s because he took me down. It wasn’t that I lost by a technique.