Strikeforce CEO confirmed the bout with Sherdog.com on Thursday.
Sobral, the promotion’s former light heavyweight champion, will replace Jason “Mayhem” Miller, who was pulled from the card by the promotion in light of his participation in a post-fight brawl which occurred in the cage following Strikeforce “Nashville” on April 17 in Nashville, Tenn.
“Miller isn’t fighting because we believe, in speaking with the Tennessee Athletic Commission, that he will put under some type of suspension,” Coker told Sherdog.com on Thursday. “After reviewing the tape (of the April 17 incident), we felt that Miller shouldn’t headline our next event. We will honor the Tennessee commission’s decision when it’s announced.”
Miller entered the cage on April 17 without the promotion or commission’s knowledge to campaign for a rematch with Jake Shields, who had just successfully defended his middleweight title against Dan Henderson. Strikeforce lightweight champion Gilbert Melendez, welterweight champion Nick Diaz, UFC lightweight Nate Diaz, and others in Shields’ camp intervened in what quickly broke out into an all-out brawl inside the cage. The live CBS telecast broadcasted Miller, on the ground, taking punches and kicks from some member of Shields’ Cesar Gracie team before officials were able to pull them apart.
Tennessee Athletic Commission Director Jeff Mullen said on Thursday that the incident was still under investigation. It was intonated that any potential sanctioning process with the fighters involved could take anywhere from one to two months to determine. Mullen declined to give further comment.
Lawler, a former EliteXC middleweight champion, scored a gripping first-round knockout over Dream striker Melvin Manhoef at Strikeforce “Miami” on Jan. 30 in Miami. The 28-year-old Lawler holds victories over Scott Smith, Murilo “Ninja” Rua and Frank Trigg.
Sobral was intended to enter Dream’s light heavyweight tournament beginning on May 29 in Japan. However, Sherdog.com reported on Thursday that the eight-man grand prix has been scratched by the promotion. The 34-year-old Brazilian jiu-jitsu black belt has not competed since losing his title to Gerard Mousasi at a Strikeforce event last August. Sobral is a 10-time UFC veteran.
Greg Savage contributed to this report.