PRESS RELEASE; NEW YORK (April 2, 2009) — The exciting, stylistic mixed martial arts (MMA) match between top-ranked fighters “Ruthless” Robbie Lawler (16-4) and Jake Shields (22-4-1) has been set for Saturday, June 6, at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo., it was announced today by Strikeforce Founder and CEO Scott Coker. In addition, Coker confirmed the addition of a thrilling Strikeforce Championship fight between light heavyweight titlist “Babalu” Sobral and top-rated contender Rafael “Feijao” Cavalcante.
The event will be televised live on SHOWTIME at 10 p.m. ET/PT (delayed on the West Coast).
Tickets for Strikeforce: “Lawler vs. Shields”, priced from $30, go on sale on Monday, April 13, at 10 a.m. CT, at the Scottrade Center box office as well as at all Ticketmaster locations (800-745-3000), Ticketmaster online (www.ticketmaster.com), and Strikeforce’s official website (www.strikeforce.com).
Lawler, a world top-10 middleweight, and Shields, ranked among the top-5 welterweights in the world, will face off at a catch weight of 182 pounds.
Sobral (32-7) will be making the first defense of his Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Championship against vaunted striker and fellow Brazil native “Feijao” (7-1).
“It’s a great opportunity to fight another top-ranked fighter,” said the hard-hitting, 27-year-old Lawler, a former high school football star known for the stunning knockout power in his fists.
“Scott Coker really stepped up and I’m glad to be fighting for him and Strikeforce,” continued Lawler, who was one of many fighters acquired in Strikeforce’s asset purchase from ProElite, Inc., earlier this year. “We were all unsure of where our next fight would be (referring to the former EliteXC stable of fighters), so we’re glad someone with his experience stepped in. He has been good to us.”
A seven-time veteran of UFC action, Lawler attracted his biggest audience to date during his live CBS Television Network broadcast rematch with Scott “Hands of Steel” Smith, whom Lawler stopped with an onslaught of kicks and punches in the second round of their headlining matchup in Stockton, Calif., on July 26, 2008.
Born in San Diego, Calif., as an adolescent, Lawler relocated with his family to Bettendorf, Iowa, where at the age of 16 he became a protégé of MMA legend Pat Miletich. Two years ago, Lawler joined the fight squad captained by former Miletich teammate and all-time great Matt Hughes.
The 30 year-old Shields, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, is looking to notch his 12th consecutive victory. In his last start, he submitted the explosive Paul Daley with an armbar in the second round of their live CBS broadcast match in Sunrise, Fla., on October 4, 2008.
“It’s a fight that makes sense,” said Shields of his upcoming challenge. “We’re both already known to the SHOWTIME viewers. He’s a top middleweight and I’m a top-ranked welterweight. It makes me want to train really hard. I know I’ve got to be ready because, if I’m not, he’s going to kick me in the head or punch me and knock me out. I’m super-excited to come in at my best.”
Shields, who began wrestling at the age of nine, acknowledged that his advantage in the match with Lawler lies on the canvas.
“My grappling’s better than his striking. I’ve been working on my striking a lot, though,” said Shields, “and I think it’s a lot better than some people give me credit for. I’m not going to say I’m a better striker than Lawler because that would be stupid. Lawler is one of the better strikers out there.”
Also a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt, the 33-year-old Sobral was crowned the first-ever Strikeforce Light Heavyweight Champion after landing an elbow strike that opened a deep cut around the eye of Bobby Southworth in the first round of their bout at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif., on Nov. 21, 2008. Southworth survived the round, but was deemed unable to continue the fight by the ringside physician before the start of the second round.
Over the course of 39 career starts, Sobral has faced and defeated some of the sport’s best competitors including legendary K-1 and UFC champion Maurice Smith, Chael Sonnen, and Rameau Thierry Sokoudjou, whom he submitted with a choke in his last appearance on January 24, of this year.
On Sept. 6, 2003, Sobral knocked off three top-tier rivals—Jeremy Horn, Mauricio “Ninja” Rua, and Trevor Prangley—during a single-elimination tournament.
Since relocating to Orange County, Calif., Sobral has taken the opportunity to elevate his striking skills, to couple with his mastery of submissions, by taking on former world championship boxing contender Justin Fortune as a trainer.
Referred to simply as “Feijao” by MMA fans, Sobral’s opponent has been on fire of late, stopping all of his last three opponents inside the first round. Only the last of these, Travis Galbraith, whom Feijao faced on July 26, 2008, survived the three-minute mark against the Brazilian sensation.
Like Sobral, the 28-year-old Feijao brings to the cage fearsome submission capabilities honed on his native soil. Through his Muay Thai kickboxing training, he also has developed a dangerous kicking and punching arsenal that has helped facilitate his current win streak.
Doors at the Scottrade Center will open for Strikeforce: “Lawler vs. Shields” at 6:30 p.m. CT on Saturday, June 6. The first non-televised preliminary bout will begin at 7 p.m.