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Babalu vs. Southworth At The Playboy Mansion

Strikeforce World Light Heavyweight (205 lb. limit) Champion Bobby Southworth (9-5) will face the greatest challenge of his nine-year mixed martial arts (MMA) career when he puts his belt on the line against superstar Renato “Babalu” Sobral (30-7) at the world-famous Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills, Calif. on Saturday, September 20th.

“He is the protector and I am the hunter,” said the 32-year-old Sobral, a former UFC world championship challenger and Brazilian national wrestling champion. “I am already in shape and prepared to take it from him. I want to be the new Strikeforce world champion and , if I could become champion while fighting at a venue like the Playboy Mansion, that would make a good win even better.”

A student of Ruas Vale Tudo, the hybrid combat system created by MMA legend Marco Ruas, Sobral is coming off a convincing, unanimous judges’ decision triumph over Mike Whitehead on July 19th. The bout marked Sobral’s third straight win, a streak that he kicked off with his second round submission of David Heath at UFC 74 on August 25, 2007.

“It was a good performance for me and helped prepare me for this championship fight ahead,” said Sobral.

Prior to being stopped by then-UFC champion Chuck “The Iceman” Liddell in the main event of UFC 62 on August 26, 2006, Sobral had reeled off 10 consecutive victories, including decisions over fellow superstars Trevor Prangley and Jeremy Horn and submissions of Mauricio “Shogun” Rua and Chael Sonnen.

The 38-year-old Southworth retained his title during Strikeforce’s “Melendez vs. Thomson” world championship card at San Jose’s HP Pavilion on Friday, June 27th, by fighting off a determined Anthony “A-Train” Ruiz for five, five-minute rounds before being awarded a unanimous judges’ decision.

The win provided Southworth with a sense of bittersweet revenge after he had initially faced off with Ruiz in a non-title bout on November 16, 2007 and sustained a cut around his eye that required the referee to stop the fight at the 52 second mark of the second round.

One of the original members of San Jose’s fearsome fight squad, Team AKA, Southworth introduced himself to the masses as a contestant on Spike TV’s inaugural season of “The Ultimate Fighter.”

“Strikeforce At The Mansion II” will also be highlighted by a showdown between 2006 Pride Fighting Championship Grand Prix winner and world top 10 ranked, Kazuo “Grabaka Hitman” Misaki (20-8-2), and 25-year-old former UFC star, Joe “Diesel “Riggs (28-10). Newly crowned Strikeforce World Lightweight (155 lb. limit) Champion Josh “The Punk” Thomson will also return to action against an opponent that has to be named. The event lineup will be comprised of 10 bouts.

In addition to a full night of MMA action, all “Strikeforce At The Mansion II” guests will be entitled to a top-shelf, open bar; buffet-style, gourmet dinner; and wine-tasting party featuring the spirits of various California gold medal wineries.

Strikeforce wrote a new chapter in sports history when it produced the first-ever MMA event at the Playboy Mansion last September. Amongst the host of celebrities who attended the affair were Hefner and “The Girls Next Door;” comedians Gary Shandling and Joe Rogan; actress and model Jaime Pressly; actors Michael Duncan Clarke, Christina Fulton, Ethan Suplee, Ernie Hudson, and Page Kennedy; MMA legends Royce Gracie and Bas Rutten; and superstars Cung Le, Frank Shamrock, Josh Barnett, and Andrei Arlovski.