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Farewell, Filho

Written by Tom Ngo
November 6th, 2008

At WEC 36 on Wednesday night, WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho culminated the most disgraceful two days any champion has ever displayed. After initially failing to make the 185-pound weight limit by an astonishing seven pounds, he came back after being granted a two hour window to lose the remaining weight, only to find himself still four pounds over the limit. Instead of the five round title bout that fans were anticipating, the WEC was forced to change his rematch with Chael Sonnen to a non-title, three round affair instead. As unfortunate as it was at the time, in hindsight, Filho did everyone a favor.

In three of the most boring and uneventful rounds imaginable, the champion failed to show up. He clearly was not in shape, and looked disinterested and lethargic throughout the bout. Perhaps the champion thought that because he had to fork over 25% of his purse to Sonnen for not making weight, he only had to show up for 75% of the fight. Well, he didn’t even do that.

Filho spent most of the fight intentionally laying on his back, daring the challenger to engage the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu wizard on the ground. Obviously, Sonnen wasn’t about to fall for the same trick that cost him a controversial submission loss in their first matchup last December.

“It threw me off,” Sonnen said after the fight. “Every time I envisioned the match and played it out through my head … the different scenarios … I never once envisioned him not fighting back. I never envisioned him just laying there. I didn’t know what to do. It was similar to being at a dance with a partner who doesn’t know how to dance.”

Sonnen was landing all the jabs, straight punches and kicks that he wanted during the rare moments that both fighters were actually on their feet, so that likely played a role as to why Filho didn’t want to tango.

Filho was his most active in the 1stRound, going for a couple leg submissions while Sonnen stood over him. However after those failed attempts, he was nothing more than a slow moving target for Sonnen, as all three judges easily scored the fight 30-27 in favor of Sonnen.

In all fairness to Filho, he had been dealing with depression issues earlier this year, which caused the rematch to be postponed until last night. There is no telling whether he is still trying to fight those demons, but from the looks of Wednesday night, he certainly could be.

One thing is for certain, in more ways than one, he is in no condition to be fighting.

(Picture courtesy of Jeff Cain, MMAWeekly.com)

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