Sobral takes Ultimate Fighting to ultimately ugly level

From his position of dominance, Renato Sobral said it looked like rising water from a fountain. Maybe. But it’s pretty hard to envision some majestic marble structure when blood continues to pour from a large hole on another person’s forehead.

A quiet, splendid morning along narrow Roman streets this wasn’t.

This is about as bloody as Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts get. It’s also about as divisive. It’s also about as fascinating. It’s all the good and bad about mixed martial arts wrapped up in one light heavyweight fight.

UFC 74 fans sold out the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Saturday night with the purpose of watching a main event that included one of the sport’s greatest champions in Randy Couture again prove what awful shape 98 percent of the world’s population over age 40 is.

They could have never forecast what happened in one undercard fight.

How can you predict someone winning in such a sickening manner?

Adrenaline is a dangerous hormone. It stimulates the heart rate and dilates blood vessels and has a number of other minor effects. Sobral proved one is stupidity.

He had David Heath beat in the second round to the point the latter had actually passed out minutes after his head opened and the Trevi began flowing a kind of red that resembled your basic Chianti.

“It looked,” said the obviously indifferent Sobral, “like he had his period.”

This just in: Sobral is a little crude.

Problem: Before slipping into an unconscious state, Heath tapped out.

Bigger problem: Sobral continued to hold his choke. He wouldn’t let go, and referee Steve Mazzagatti either didn’t see the tap or was wondering just how big a stain all the blood could create on the mat.

Finally, several seconds later and at 3:30 of the round with Heath in la-la-land, the fight was stopped.

This was Sobral immediately afterward: “I knew he had (tapped out). He has to learn respect. He deserved that.”

No. Not really.

The only person booed louder Saturday night than Sobral might have been Kobe Bryant, proving UFC fans are intelligent enough to demand good sportsmanship from their fighters and selflessness from NBA stars. Sobral threw his hat into the stands. It was thrown back even faster.

“It was a chicken (bleep) move to hold the choke,” UFC president Dana White said. “You just don’t do stuff like that. I would imagine the commission would have something to say.”

The Nevada Athletic Commission already has, holding $25,000 of Sobral’s purse pending a hearing.

“I’m going to also talk to (Sobral) and tell him it was an (expletive, expletive, expletive) move,” White said.

“One of the things people like about this sport is honor. When you do stuff like that, you become a bad guy. People not liking you is not a good thing. I’ll tell you what, if he would have had hold of a leg or arm and could have done real damage to (Heath) and pulled that crap, I would have cut him from the (UFC) roster immediately.”

It hasn’t been the greatest of times for Sobral. One year ago today, he lost a light heavyweight title fight to Chuck Liddell. Then he lost to Jason Lambert. Then he was arrested in July on charges of battery and trespassing outside Tampa, Fla.

His UFC future hung on winning Saturday and Sobral’s rage increased when Heath threw a few curse words his way at Friday’s weigh-in.

Wow. There’s a new concept — fighters getting emotional 24 hours before trying to beat the snot out of each another.

Here’s another popular one for Sobral: Grow up.

Several stitches had closed the gash on Heath’s forehead an hour following the fight. His left eye was badly bruised and closed. His ear looked like a small rodent had nibbled off a nice little meal for itself. The guy was a complete mess.

“I was knocked out, but after watching the replay, it was a (expletive) move for him not to (let up),” Heath said. “I remember (tapping) before passing out. When he opened the cut, I was fighting three-fourths blind. I never had blood in my eyes before this. I might be a lot madder about it, but I was unconscious. If there were a chance for more serious (damage), I would be sneaking up on him right now.

“But he was a hungry guy and I was a hungry guy. It’s all good. I enjoyed it. I’m sure he did, too.”

Sure he did. Like a lovely stroll around a large piazza.

“The ref has to jump in there sooner,” Sobral suggested. “The crowd didn’t like it? Who cares? At least they had a reaction. (Heath) had enough blood, so maybe he could have gone another round.”

A real beauty, this guy.

White should do more than just talk to him. A suspension is on order. At least.

Ed Graney’s column is published Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. He can be reached at 383-4618 or egraney@reviewjournal.com.

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