Renato Sobral had been absent from the cage for a little more than 18 months. His triumphant return to action lasted less than a minute.
“Babalu” needed just 31 seconds to submit Tatsuya Mizuno with an armbar at One FC 4 “Destiny of Warriors” on Saturday at Stadium Negara in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was the Brazilian’s first fight since falling to Dan Henderson via first-round knockout at Strikeforce “Henderson vs. Babalu 2” in December 2010.
“[It feels like] I lost my virginity again,” Sobral (Pictured, file photo) said of his return. “[It’s been] a long time, but I’m still here fighting.”
Mizuno (11-8) struck first in the light heavyweight headliner, stunning his opponent with a punch before moving into Sobral’s guard. That was the end of the Dream veteran’s offense, however, as Sobral (37-9) quickly transitioned to the armbar, causing Mizuno to tap and forcing referee Yuji Shimada to call an end to the short-lived contest.
“He got me with a straight right hand, but then he came and jumped in my guard,” said Sobral, a onetime UFC 205-pound title challenger. “I trained to knock him out, to beat him up a little bit, but whatever it takes to finish the fight.”
Zorobabel Moreira spoiled Roger Huerta’s One FC debut in the co-main event, knocking out the former UFC star via soccer kick in a welterweight tilt.
Huerta began the fight aggressively, pushing the pace and attacking his taller foe with punches and kicks while constantly moving forward. “El Matador” eventually paid for his attempts to close the distance, as Moreira (7-1) found his range with several high kicks in the later stages of round one.
“Zoro” really began to assert himself in the second frame, as he punished Huerta (21-7-1) with knees, punches and kicks against the cage. With the American on weary legs, Moreira sent him stumbling with a straight right hand. Sensing the end was near, the Evolve Gym export continued to attack with knees, before sealing the deal with a vicious soccer kick behind the ear at the 3:53 mark of round two. It was Huerta’s sixth loss in his last seven fights.
“He’s a very tough opponent. We trained so hard for this,” said Moreira, who improved to 3-0 under the One FC banner. “I feel he lost his balance. I took the opportunity to push him down. I saw the space, and there was that kick.”
Many a foe has fallen victim to the dangerous leg locks of Masakazu Imanari over the years, but Leandro Issa (10-2) avoided such a fate, relying on effective countering, leg kicks and timely takedowns en route to a clear-cut unanimous triumph over the “Ashikan Judan.” The Brazilian controlled the bantamweight encounter from the outset and avoiding any serious damage from Imanari (25-11-2), who didn’t attempt a single submission in defeat.
Earlier in the evening, Phuket Top Team representative Adam Shahir Kayoom (3-1) survived an early onslaught from Gregor Gracie (6-2) to capture a unanimous verdict from the cageside judges in a welterweight scrap. Gracie had an opportunity to finish the contest with a series of strikes from back mount late in round one, but Kayoom survived and took control over the final two frames as the Renzo Gracie pupil faded.
Filipino featherweight prospect Eric Kelly (7-0) kept his perfect record intact with a hard-fought unanimous verdict over South Korea’s Bae Young Kwon (7-3). Kelly defended multiple submissions and got the better of his opponent in exchanges as the URCC champion went the distance for the first time in his career.
In the first main card bout, Malaysia-based Frenchman Arnaud Lepont (9-1) overcame the wrestling of Evolve MMA representative Brian Choi (3-2) to secure a come-from-behind rear-naked choke victory at 1:38 of the third frame.
The event began with three undercard bouts: Mitch Chilson elicited a tapout from A.J. Vaa with a rear-naked choke at 1:39 of the opening round in a catch-weight affair; Marcos Escobar submitted Rodrigo Praxedes with a brabo choke at 1:05 of the third round to win his MMA debut at welterweight; and Peter Davis kicked of the card with a 55-second TKO of Kim Hock Quek at lightweight.