UFC veteran Renato “Babalu” Sobral hasn’t competed since a third round TKO loss to Jacob Noe at Bellator 96 in June of 2013.
The retired MMA fighter believes that he is starting to show signs of CTE after nearly two decades of professional MMA competition.
”What happened to me was something that came in homeopathic doses,” Sobral said to PVT (via Guilherme Cruz of MMA Fighting). “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. 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.”
CTE doesn’t just affect professional MMA fighters, as athletes from other sports and people from all walks of life can be affected by the condition.
Babalu believes that a normal life may not be possible with his kids and future grandchildren due to CTE.
“You start doing things you are not prepared to do, but you have to go,” Sobral said. “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, [professional 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 (to pay). It’s not in there for free. I don’t even think it’s about glory, because it’s not for enough time.”
Sobral retired with a professional MMA record of 37-11-0 and had suffered seven of his eleven defeats by way of KO/TKO.