Sobral turns striker to outpunch Lawler


LOS ANGELES -- Renato "Babalu" Sobral defeated Robbie Lawler by unanimous decision after three hard-fought rounds in the Strikeforce "Los Angeles" main event on Wednesday at the Nokia Theatre.

Scores were 29-28 across the board.

In a mild upset, Sobral navigated his way to an early lead and held on in the third round. The victory may have put him at the head of a list of contenders to face light heavyweight champion "King" Muhammad Lawal in August. Afterward, however, Sobral called for a rematch with two-time Olympian Dan Henderson, a man who defeated him a decade ago in Japan.

"It would be an honor to fight him again," Sobral said.

The telling blow for Sobral was a hard right kick to the left side of Lawler's midsection in the opening exchange of the second round. The impact could be heard throughout the venue, and it clearly angered the former EliteXC champion. Lawler went into hot pursuit, but he could not find the mark with any power punches as Babalu retreated from danger.

A blood-red bruise expanded on Lawler's rib cage, and he slowed down considerably as the round went on. He never really lifted his left arm from his side, as he tried to keep the area protected. His defensive strategy cut down on his offensive output for the remainder of the frame.

Lawler finally came alive in the third round. He badgered Sobral with a quick jab to the cut above his left eye. Babalu wiped the blood away repeatedly as he circled away from Lawler's power. Sobral's defensive maneuvering helped stave off his desperate opponent and got him to the final bell relatively unscathed.

Lawler looked defeated when the horn sounded ending the fight, and his mood was soon confirmed when scorecards were read.

"I tried to press the pace and finish him in the third. I thought I was possibly behind, but you never know," Lawler said. "He did really good, didn't let me catch him with too many big shots."

Santos knocks out Zaromskis

Evangelista "Cyborg" Santos knocked out heavily favored Dream welterweight champion Marius Zaromskis in the co-main event. The heavily tattooed veteran showed the initial burst for which he has become known early in his fights and overwhelmed his Lithuanian opponent.

The Brazilian landed a booming leg kick, but it was answered with a quick one-two from Zaromskis. Santos then hurt Zaromskis with a nice left hook that wobbled him and followed it up with another in the next exchange.

Zaromskis tried to answer with a flying knee, but he missed and Cyborg sent him cascading to the mat with a beautiful right hand. Santos turned over the punch as his foe was trying to retreat out of range and followed the big blow with punches on the ground until referee Herb Dean stepped in to end the match at 2:38 of the first round.

Greg Savage is a contributor to Sherdog.com.