Renato “Babalu” Sobral will step into the Affliction ring Saturday night looking to get a big win over Mike Whitehead. Over the last year, controversy has surrounded Sobral, but the former UFC title contender looks to put that all behind him Saturday night and come away with a huge victory.

In 2002 Babula lost by a Head Kick KO to Chuck Liddell at UFC 40, but would go on to win the next 10 in a row. His win stream would set up a title shot rematch with the “Iceman” in 2006. Babula was beaten once again. Liddell was running through everyone, so the loss did nothing to hurt his career.

In his next fight Babalu who was a 3:1 favorite, was knocked out by Jason Lambert at UFC 68, which shocked many. So Sobral needed a dominating performance in his next fight, as 3 losses in a row in the UFC usually warranted your walking papers. So on August 25th, 2008 Babula went into the cage dominated. He beat David Heath all over the cage, leaving him into a bloody mess.

But he made one mistake.

At the end of the fight, Babula left his choke on too long and was fined his $25,000 win bonus and kicked out of the UFC. It likely didn’t help his case that on July 14th he was charged with two misdemeanors (trespassing and battery) at the Hard Rock Casino just outside Tampa, FL.

A win over Rodney Faverus in Planium Fighting Productions in December 2007 was his only fight since.

A win Saturday night over Whitehed will put all that behind him very quickly. In Whitehead (23-6), Babalu is fighting a guy who has won 12 in a row and is a real threat at 205 lbs for anyone.

But he remains calm heading into Saturday and notes that,
“The crowd can get excited, but when I walk into the ring, I don’t care what I’m hearing. I just try and relax my mind and just do my job.”

He heads into Saturday as a favorite once again and his goals in the sport have remained the same since day one, as he laments, “My goal in MMA is to be number 1.”

Babalu will begin his road back to number 1 on Saturday at Affliction.