Retired MMA veteran Renato ‘Babalu’ Sobral has revealed that he’s suffering from debilitating ailments, including Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) after his hard-fought career came to a close.
A man of many promotions, Sobral fought a total of 49 times over a career spanning some 16-years, fighting for the likes of the UFC, Bellator, Strikeforce, Affliction, ONE FC, Rings and Cage Rage along the way.
However, almost six years after his retirement Sobral now looks back and wonders whether it was really worth the toll it’s taken on his mind and body.
“Today a fighter learns how to fight, he learns how to make money, but he doesn’t learn too much about how to manage his life,” Sobral told the PVT site in Brazil. “I didn’t learn how to manage my life. I made several mistakes about money, about what I could have done with my career. I paid a price for being where I am.
”Today I can’t walk a straight line, I lost sight of my left eye, which is a big price (to pay). I have no balance today, my balance is almost zero. When I’m fighting, when I’m in a jiu-jitsu tournament or in training, it feels that my balance is normal again, but it’s complicated on a daily basis. But the guys that start fighting have to know that the price to pay will come one day. For everyone. People only talk about the good things today, what they have accomplished, what happened, but what about what you’ve lost? What happened to you?
”If someone asked me if I would let my son fight vale tudo, I would say no, I wouldn’t. My daughter? No. I would hope she wouldn’t. I’d rather see her study. My daughter already is on the water polo ‘A’ team of her high school, she competes, but being a professional athlete? Any sport demands a lot from your body and you will have to pay the price in the future.”
‘Babalu’s’ 37-12 record includes wins over the likes of Robbie Lawler, Chael Sonnen, Maurico ‘Shogun’ Rua and losses to some of the biggest legends in the sport like Chuck Liddell, Fedor Emelianenko and Dan Henderson.
However, money problems and bad decisions left Sobral neglecting his health and now he’s paying the price for that.
“You start doing things you are not prepared to do, but you have to go. You have to fight in pain, fight while injured. You get knocked out in the gym, and you’re still fighting the week after. You have to fight. You can’t say, ‘I won’t fight’. It’s one blow after the other. And I’m [paying the price] now, right? I don’t know if I’ll be able to see my grandkids, enjoy my grandkids in a normal way, because I’m starting to slowly feel the effects.
“I already have [chronic] traumatic encephalopathy, actually. People barely talk about it. You can do a research, [fighters] have peaks of depression, we have seizures, you don’t listen that well. I don’t have speaking issues yet, but I lost the eye sight of my left eye, I have osteoarthritis on my entire body. My knee. I have 13 surgeries through my entire body. So, there’s a price. It’s not in there for free. I don’t even think it’s about glory, because it’s not for enough time.”