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Even more comments on Babalu situation

To all those in the comment areas who are trying to either defend Sobral’s actions or are claiming that I am overreacting, I think you might need to see a doctor about some sort of contrarian disorder. You do realize you are defending the indefensible, right?

If you’re a fighter or a guy who trains, I’d love to hear public responses on the following two questions (if you’re a fighter who doesn’t want to go on the record, e-mail me your answers at [email protected] and I will post them anonymously after I verify your identity):

1) What would happen if you were at your fight camp or school and you were rolling with someone and refused to release a submission hold when someone tapped? Luke Thomas, if you’re reading this, I would love for you to educate the people on what would happen if someone did this at a BJJ or MMA school.

2) If you were cornering a fighter and someone deliberately didn’t release a hold after a stoppage and put your fighter to sleep, how would you react?

I’m reading comments and getting e-mails about B.J. Penn vs. Jens Pulver claiming that I didn’t make a big deal out of it. First, I didn’t make as big of a deal out of it because it wasn’t as bad. There was some gray area there. But it was still wrong and I believe I said so at the time and still believe Penn should have been fined. Second, to use Penn as a defense for Sobral is just lame. I hate to use a tired cliche’, but when do two wrongs make a right!?

I also get the feeling that a lot of people are commenting on this situation who haven’t seen the match. Why do I get the feeling that this incident is turning into MMA’s version of when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in Hershey, PA? Suddenly everyone was there.

28 COMMENTS
  • Rick says:

    Is there somewhere on the net we can see the incident? I didn’t find it on youtube.

    Also, I can only answer 1) since I have no experince with 2): I would be livid if this was done to me or someone else at my school. I know this is different because it was an opponent and not a training partner but there are certain acts in every sport that can’t be tolerated even against opponents (ex. throwing at someone’s head in baseball, leg whips in football, stick work in hockey). Some people are willing to cross those lines. That is what makes them assholes.

  • Jeremy says:

    Sam, I don’t know if you know or not, but has there ever been a previous NSAC ruling on an action like Babalu’s? Or is there a guideline somewhere in the NSAC rules that would give us an indication of what they may do to Babalu? Obviously besides withhold the $25,000, because it doesn’t seem like Zuffa will be doing anything.

  • Jeremy says:

    Rick, I believe if you go on dailymotion.com it was there yesterday if you search ufc 74.

  • James says:

    I haven’t seen this yet, but as a person who trains BJJ I’m appalled. There is an inherent trust between practitioners of BJJ that when you give up, they’ll let go of the hold. With Babalu breaking that trust, I believe you are absolutely right that he should be fired by the UFC and suspended by the NSAC…total bullshit on his part and total disrespect to everyone who loves BJJ…

  • Rick says:

    Jeremy – thanks for the link. It is still there if you want to check it out James.

  • jt says:

    He got half his pay withheld, that is punishment enough. You don’t fire someone for a move like that. When other mainstream athletes show poor sportsmanship they dont get fired, Sam. Come on. They get fined or suspended for a time. (Unless you’re Vick and you commit a felony) I saw the fight on UFC on demand, and it is not really THAT bad. I think its one of those thing where people see what they want to see.

    Did Babalu hold on to the choke longer on purpose, of course.
    Was he trying to do real damage to Heath? No, he let up after a few seconds and Heath was fine. Was it cheap? Yes. Is Babalu crazy? Probably. But once again this is a business and UFC is not going to let an exciting fighter who is an EXTREMELY skilled LHW go just like that. YOU may want Babalu fired, but I seriously doubt he will be. That’s why you don’t run the UFC.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    “He got half his pay withheld, that is punishment enough. You don’t fire someone for a move like that. When other mainstream athletes show poor sportsmanship they dont get fired, Sam.”

    You’re comparing apples to oranges. This isn’t just a contact sport, it’s a combat sport. Albert Haynesworth stomped Andre Gurode last year and got suspended for a lengthy amount of time. What Babalu did involved a choke, which I think you’ll agree with me is way worse. His behavior after the fact has to be taken into consideration, as does his legal situation.

    Good, let him fight again and if he tries something like it again let’s all hope the opposing fighter’s corner doesn’t jump into the cage and start a huge brawl.

    “I think its one of those thing where people see what they want to see.”

    I didn’t want to see anything like that. So what does that say for your argument?

    “But once again this is a business and UFC is not going to let an exciting fighter who is an EXTREMELY skilled LHW go just like that. YOU may want Babalu fired, but I seriously doubt he will be. That’s why you don’t run the UFC.”

    No, there are plenty of other reasons why I don’t run the UFC. But what does who run the UFC have to do with this? There is right and there is wrong. Who cares if he’s an exciting fighter? Crap like this creates business risks that far outweigh the rewards. Pacman Jones played very well last year and since he hasn’t been convicted of anything, I guess the NFL is making a mistake by keeping an exciting player off the field.

  • Luke says:

    Sam – I’m here. Today’s my first day at my new job, so I’m still getting the feel for everything, but I’ll definitely have a post up today about this.

  • garth says:

    but, but, but, boxing lets guys with spotty records hang around!!1! Krazy Horse is still fighting!!1!

    I hate equivalence arguments. Two wrongs indeed don’t make a right. One of the main reasons, and, yes, main reasons, I watch MMA is because of the sportsmanship displayed in this game. Trashtalking all the way up to the fight, but the minute its over, pat the other guy on the back and say “Nice fight”. You know what describes babalu’s actions, words, everything? Classless. Crass. Cruel. Stupid. I can download Kimbo Slice vids and streetfighting videos a lot cheaper than watching a $40 PPV if i just want to see assholes doing asshole moves.
    The myopia involved in Sobral’s defenders is sick too. They look at the video clip and say “It wasn’t that bad, BJ did the same thing”. But did BJ spend the rest of the night talking shit and acting like he was justified? Did he trash talk the guy he’d just fought minutes after (I know he has in the past) basically trying to kill him?
    Sobral should be fired from the UFC because he messed up and acted like he deserved a cookie for it. That’s why. I have always admired his skills…I picked him against Chuck for god’s sake, and that cost me money…but this is beyond the pale. The Pacman Jones analogy is a good one, as is Tank Johnson. Of course there’s examples the other way of guys who did crap and got back into their leagues. Wife-beaters, cheap-shotters, bat-throwers (who was that kid in Tampa Bay…?), etc. But fercrissakes, the UFC can choose to make a point here.
    Of course, if it sells tickets…

  • RDukes says:

    Just saw the clip up on youtube (won’t post here, so as not to get Sam in trouble). It was bad. As he taps out, more blood from Heath’s cut squirts out.

    In addition to Babalu being a dick, what the fuck was up with Mazzaghatti not calling the fight earlier (or, at the very least, having the doctor take a look at the cut). That was just ridiculous. I’ve seen fights called for much less.

  • Rick says:

    Does anyone know if Mazzagatti could have DQ’ed Babalu after the fact? I know this is the real issue we are talking about here, but I was just curious.

  • Rick says:

    Meant to say “ISN’T the real issue.

  • stingrza says:

    Post #6 is utterly moronic. You’re going to defend the action by defining it according to business pragmatics? Not that it even deserves further commentary, but what better have I got to do:

    First of all, you’re drastically overestimating the value of “EXTREMELY skilled LHW” Babalu. This is a guy who, last time he was seen on TV, was knocked completely senseless by the aesthetically unimpressive Jason Lambert. You may also recall that previous to that, his biggest accomplishment in the UFC was providing two of Chuck Liddell’s more violent highlight KO’s. So what, exactly, is Babalu’s “value” in the UFC right now? He’s not a contender and probably never will be again, expecially considering the recent influx of world-class (and fresh) talent at LHW.

    The reality of this situation, as it pertains to your criminally misguided “business logic,” is that Babalu is much more of a business LIABILITY than VALUE. You’re clearly an MBA of some sort, so I don’t need to explain those terms to you, right? This is a guy who, as I just made clear, is following a pattern of significantly diminishing returns every time he works for the company. At the same time, he is giving the UFC a black eye both in AND out of the cage — and this is not a sport that needs any legitimate association with sociopathic bullies right now.

    The bottom line here is simple. As I’m sure you learned at Wharton, when an employee hurts your company more than he helps it, you’re best off firing him.

    Done and Done.

  • jt says:

    I’m almost positive Pacman Jones is suspended because he’s been arrested 5 times and questioned 11 times by law enforcement since he was drafted (thanks Wikipedia). Maybe a little bit different circumstance. I mention UFC management and your lack of involvement in it only because you call for White to fire Sobral, assuming this is a decision you would make if you were the one running the show. It would be a terrible business decision and that’s only why I mentioned one (of many im sure as you conceded earlier) reason why you dont run the UFC. Sobral might need a little couseling, sure, but as an owner of a business, a level headed decision must be made that takes into account all angles of of an issue and is not based on an understandably natural emotional response. When someone does something cheap or unsportsmanlike, of course we get pissed. Were humans. The rules are there for a reason and they are meant to be followed. If they are not, there is a consequence, and in Babalu’s case, a $25,000 consequence. Add the 25,000 with the 21,000 Sobral received for his fight in March, for a huge total of 46,000 for the year. Pretty good for a professional athlete. I think i’d feel punished if 35% of my yearly salary was taken away. (oh wait, it already is). Point being, he screwed up. He got punished. He shouldn’t be fired. Agree to disagree :)

  • Dan says:

    I’ve been training mma for 2 years. To answer both of your questions, of course I would be furious. And the person who did it would probably (I’m saying probably cause I have never seen it happen) get a punishment. Maybe even get kicked out of the club since it happened in training. Which is not close to being the same thing as the highest level of competition a la ufc.

    With that said, I don’t think the ufc should fire him. This is the highest level of competition where, too put it simply, shit can and will happen. Put two humans in such a extreme situation and things are bound to go wrong sometimes.

    He is probably going to get fined/suspended. And he should have to give some of his purse to heath. That would be a fair punishment in my mind. Suspension and fine.

    I got questions for you (even though i know you can’t change your opinion on this):

    Do you think pride should have fired Gomi after he kept hitting Azeredo after it was stopped?

    Diaz when he squeezed his gogo tighter against gomi?

    BJ Penn after holding the choke against Pulver?

    You’re avoiding these kind of questions by saying it is not the same thing, but thats exactly what it is. Breaking the agreement that you stop fighting once the ref steps in. It’s ugly and it should be punished, but not to the extent you’re saying.

    If Randy Couture somehow had a brainfart and did the same thing against Gonzaga, should the ufc fire the Hw-champ? Ok maybe Randy is too nice for it to be believable, but let’s say Anderson Silva did it, should he get fired? (And that’s not to say Silva is an ugly fighter by any means)

    If Babalu apoligized directly after the bout, should he still get fired?

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Dan:

    I’m not avoiding anything. When have I ever avoided an issue? I’ve mentioned the Penn incident several times already today. Just because I didn’t include a bunch of references to past infractions means I can’t comment on Sobral?

    This blog wasn’t around when Gomi fought Azeredo. Deliberate punches after the bell are wrong and a fighter should be penalized severely for it. I think a fine and a suspension. I consider leaving a submission in following the tap for as long as Sobral did when he was looking DIRECTLY at the ref should be a fireable offense.

    What Penn did was wrong. I spoke out then at the time. I was nowhere near as loud about it because it was nowhere near as bad.

    If Randy or anyone else did the same thing as Babalu (comments included) they should be fired. I have nothing against Sobral, and in fact was a fan up until this. There’s no angle here of conflict of interest. This is how I truly feel and my feelings were influenced by Sobral’s actions and words alone. I understand he wanted to prove a point and had heat with Heath. But I think he taught Heath his lesson by beating the guy to a bloody pulp.

    If Babalu had apologized right after then it would have made a HUGE difference. Someone made the comment that a lot of things can happen in the heat of a fight. If he had shown some contrition then this wouldn’t be a black and white issue and I don’t think you could make a strong case for firing someone in regard to a gray area.

  • stingrza says:

    Dan –

    Did BJ make statements directly after the fight with Pulver that he had intentionally held the submission to “teach Pulver a lesson?” Or did he appear contrite and hug his opponent? I forget.

    The Gomi/Diaz situation is not even remotely applicable here. If you’ve been training for two years you should know very well the difference between holding a sub an extra second to be 100% sure the submisssion vs. holding it for 4-5 extra seconds out of predesignated malice.

  • I train in BJJ. If it would have been an arm or leg then I think it would have been bad.

    Side Note: To me it looked like Babalu let him up to get a choke. I think he might have planned it.

    I dont think it was a good place to do on a big MMA stage, but to rattle a vetran like Sobral into doing something like that, Heath must have said something pretty bad. I hear Heath didnt say anything at the weigh in, but I am gonna give the benefit of doubt to Sobral. I mean the guy has been around the block. Why would he do this to a no-name? So in short if it was bad enough for him to do it then I think it was justified. Forget the tapping out honor, if somebody talks crap about my family or my teamates/family I am gonna worry about that honor first.

    Good for Babalu for defending his honor against a guy like Heath. I think this proves Sobral is a fighter and not just another athlete.

    1) What would happen if you were at your fight camp or school and you were rolling with someone and refused to release a submission hold when someone tapped?

    If it was someone from another school he would get his ass kicked. If it was two guys from the same school then it would get broken up and if the instructor told them not to settle it elsewhere then it would die there or appear later when they fight again.

    2) If you were cornering a fighter and someone deliberately didn’t release a hold after a stoppage and put your fighter to sleep, how would you react?

    I would jump in because that is what you are supposed to do.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    Billy:

    I was at the weigh-ins and here’s what I recall:

    Babalu came out looking pissed like he usually does. He almost always has an edge to him and that gets amplified around weigh-ins because he usually cuts more weight than the average light heavyweight does.

    He came out with his scowl and Heath wasn’t going to have any of it. He eyeballed Babalu right back and I think they got real close until Dana separated them. As they were walking off the stage I am pretty sure Heath yelled something (not sure what, it wasn’t audible from my location) and Babalu turned around and started walking back but a bunch of people jumped in to escort him off stage.

  • Dan says:

    Oh, by avoiding I didn’t mean, not talking about it. I meant you are making a difference between the two. My bad.

    In one case you state he should get fired for breaking the holy rule to let go once some one taps and in another case it’s okay with a some harsh comments and no punishment.

    “If Babalu had apologized right after then it would have made a HUGE difference. Someone made the comment that a lot of things can happen in the heat of a fight. If he had shown some contrition then this wouldn’t be a black and white issue and I don’t think you could make a strong case for firing someone in regard to a gray area.”

    So basically you want him fired for being an asshole and not because he broke the rules?

    “Did BJ make statements directly after the fight with Pulver that he had intentionally held the submission to “teach Pulver a lesson?” Or did he appear contrite and hug his opponent? I forget.”

    Oh okey, so if you make an excuse and hug out afterwards it’s okay to hold on to submissions. I remember comments from Penn laughing and saying he didn’t hold on to it long enough at a later occasion.

  • Who knows then, he shouldnt have done it, but it really depends what was said. That is probally why Dana is going to talk to Sobral personally. We may get to find out what was said later!

    Nothing said should be worth killing a man, but he made the guy pass out.

    Most of the people against this act are just trying to protect this sport because we love it, but there are just some things you just don’t say before a fight. I have rarley seen an MMA guy make a mistake in a fight because he was to mad. Not the best strategy Heath.

  • Gygax says:

    I’d love to hear what Josh Barnett, who was cornering Babalu, has to say about his fighter’s actions?

    I think the biggest key to the sanctions being levied against Sobral were due to his post fight admission of holding onto the choke and trying to “teach” Heath a lesson.

  • RDukes says:

    Impeccable logic from Billy Gamble: if Sorbal did it, it must be justified.

    C’mon, Billy. Babalu’s a “professional” fighter. This wasn’t a playground incident involving a joke about his mother.

  • I dont even know what Impeccable means, come on this is a blog here.

    He is a proffesional fighter because he shows up to sanctioned events. Babalu has been fighting since the bare knuckle days and family/team as it is to me is important in Brazil so fill in the gaps.

    I was wondering the same thing about Josh Barnett. He seemed to be in good spirits when walking towards Sobral.

    Oh well on the the next events. There will be Three UFC’s next month! Drought then a flood!

  • jt says:

    Yeah what the hell was with Barnett being there? I mean is that guy trying to score a contract harder than Lesnar or what?

  • Screwface says:

    It wasn’t cool, but it wasn’t that bad either. The gomi incident was way worse. Half his purse is sufficient punishment. Im not condoning it, just saying ive seen way worse and it wasn’t cool at all. Def as*hole move by sobral, but half your check hurts when you only fight maybe 2-3 times a year. And that does send a message to future as*holes. No one wants less money or bad blood with dana. It was only for 1-2 extra seconds, and if he didnt admit it you never wouldve made a big deal about it, because your initial reaction was he prolly didnt notice the tap, meaning you didnt think it was that bad at the time either.

  • Sam Caplan says:

    “…because your initial reaction was he prolly didnt notice the tap, meaning you didnt think it was that bad at the time either.”

    No, my initial reaction was, “What’s going on? Why isn’t he letting go?” And then he got on the mic and told us all why he didn’t let go.

  • Screwface says:

    “I thought maybe he didn’t see or hear the ref call the match and that it was an honest mistake.”

    Sam you would have never entertained that thought if it was truly that bad.

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