Stricken With CTE, Babalu Sobral Reveals He’s Blind In One Eye

Renato Sobral

Former UFC & Bellator veteran Renato Sobral has had numerous wars inside the cage, and now the damage appears to be adding up.

“Babalu” made his professional MMA debut in 1997. He quickly made a name for himself and was fighting the likes of Fedor Emelianenko in 2001 before he ever made it to the Octagon a year later.

Sobral, now 43, has enjoyed a 15-plus year MMA career. His last fight was in 2013 but he still competes in grappling matches. Sobral ended his career with a record of 37-11. It’s important to realize that even though he won 37 fights, “Babalu” [and other fighters] often take a tremendous amount of damage in fights they win. Just ask Justin Gaethje.

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Unfortunately, Sobral feels like the damage sustained in those 49 fights is starting to catch up with him.

“I already have [chronic] traumatic encephalopathy, actually. People barely talk about it,” Sobral told MMA Fighting. “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 eyesight 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 says he first noticed inconsistencies in his behavior as far back as 2007. That could explain his actions when he choked out David Heath at UFC 75 and refused to let go even after the referee stepped in.

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”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,” Sobral continued. “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?”

Sobral is not the first MMA fighter to claim to have CTE. Former fighters T.J. Grant and Krzysztof Soszynski were forced into early retirement as well as combat sports legend Gary Goodridge.