Saturday: 15.April.2006

Met Babalu Sobral: UFC fighter

While soaking in the jacuzzi this afternoon at the 24 Hour Fitness club in Costa Mesa (the big one on 19th street), I noticed two heavily tattooed guys walk into the pool area.

One of them looked *exactly* like the Brazilian UFC fighter Babalu Sobral. (Here's a photo of Babalu in action. He's the guy on the top. He doesn't lose very often.)

Both guys spent time soaking in the giant jacuzzi before heading over to the pool, where they swam laps.

I wasn't sure it was Babalu, and couldn't imagine what he would be doing in Costa Mesa, since he fights out of Rio de Janeiro, but would have regretted not approaching him .. if it were indeed him.

continued

I thought it might be him cuz all the other swimmers wore equipment, such as caps, hand-paddles, fins, while these two guys didn't even wear goggles. That's kinda how Babalu fights: gets right down to business. No fancy fluff.

So, while they took a break from swimming laps, I walked up and said, "Excuse me. You look *just* like the UFC fighter Babalu". He grinned like a cat that ate the canary and said, "I know that guy."

"Is that you?" I asked. He nodded, looking almost shy, then reached out his (tattooed) arm to shake. I introduced myself. His grip was gentle, but you could still feel the power in his hands. It felt as if he ever grabbed hold of you, you wouldn't get away.

I told him how I saw his last fight, where his eye was badly swollen. (It looked downright grotesque.) But Babalu came back and won the match. Most impressive. Obviously he has a lot of heart. And never says die.

I asked his buddy, "Did you see that fight?" His buddy said, "I was there!"

Later, on the way home, I stopped at La Fogata (which is where I met Kobe, incidentally), and noticed in the sports page there that there is a UFC fight scheduled at the Anaheim Pond tonight. So maybe Babalu is in town to watch the fights.

This fight sold out in record time, faster than any other UFC fight in the organization's 13 year history. The sport is growing rapidly, cuz it's real. These type of fights used to be outlawed here, until Arnold signed a bill legalizing them. In many states, they are *still* illegal.

Still wasn't sure it was really Babalu until I got home and checked the Internet, and examined his tattoos online, especially those on his right arm. Yep, that was him alright. No doubt about it. Tattoos were exactly he same.

The 24 Hour Fitness club in Costa Mesa (the one on 19th street) is the biggest health club I have ever been in. It's huge: has two floors crammed full of equipment. I go there on days when the sauna at the club in Newport Beach isn't working, and when I'm in the area.

For more on this topic, here's a Google search pre-configured for the query: renato babalu sobral ufc





Posted by Rad at April 15, 2006 03:17 PM

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