Filho Counting on Diverse Skills to Stop Sonnen

By Gleidson Venga Dec 11, 2007
Paulo Filho (Pictures) returns to the WEC on Wednesday to defend his middleweight title against Chael Sonnen (Pictures). Several Brazilian MMA stars helped Filho prepare for the bout, and he has guaranteed that he will walk into the cage in the best shape of his life.

"The drills were excellent, as always," Filho told "Guys as high caliber as [the Nogueira brothers] came here to help me, in addition to my coach, Josuel Distak, and many other friends. I think it certainly will make a difference."

The Brazilian is undefeated in 15 fights, but he knows that Sonnen, 19-8-1, is a capable opponent.

"He is a fighter of wrestling and is well respected in that way," Filho said of his Team Quest-trained foe. "The Americans are trusting that he will defeat me, but I am taking this bet. I respect him as an athlete, but I'm not scared of him. If I had fear of man, I wouldn't look myself in the mirror. I am not afraid of defeat -- I deserve to get this far. … It will be a tough fight for both of us. I do not know how he is prepared, but I am very well prepared and very focused."

The 29-year-old WEC middleweight champ has prepared for a major challenge from Sonnen. In fact, Filho said that the secret of his success has been very hard training, though he also takes plenty of breaks.

"I always try to relax after the fights," he explained. "I really keep myself away from training. I look for other activities such as weightlifting, riding a bike. I enjoy my dogs. I do not drink, never smoked and I do things that will prepare me psychologically because I start the drills in a very fast way. I do things to keep me psychologically 100 percent because I like to train hard. I am an athlete who demands much from myself because I came from judo and I think that in jiu-jitsu the guys don't train that much. My culture is to train a lot."

Filho prefers to train at the time of his fights rather than the constant preparation some fighters undergo.

"If I am fighting in March," he said, "I'll scratch my b---- all January. I do not even go to the gym. I do recreational things. I run a little, gain a lot of weight and weigh more than 100 kg. Then two months left, I get to training and then I slowly increase the training until it gets harder, then decrease again and get everything fine. If I do not do this, I just get half-consumed by the level of stress. I think the athlete has to be well-conditioned psychologically. I do not think it's right for a guy to fight and then 10 days after return to training. I do not have anything more to learn; my technical skills are already formed. … If I train the whole year, when I arrive at the fight, I'll be pissed off and will not produce what I could."

After he left Brazilian Top Team, Filho first told that he had joined Team Link -- Gabriel Gonzaga (Pictures)'s camp. However, he has since said that he's not going to move to the United States anytime soon.

"At the moment I do not think I'll move to America because I have a lot of things to resolve here in Brazil," Filho said. "I have a great friendship with Marco Alvan, the leader of the team, and we have many good thoughts. We identified a lot, but I think it is not time to move there. I will fight for Team Link, but I won't move for now."

Considered one of the great middleweights of the world, the BJJ black belt is often questioned about his future. While fans hope that one day he will step into the Octagon, Filho wants to fulfill his contract with the WEC first.

"After this fight, I have two more fights still in the contract," he said. "I have to fulfill them now to know what I will do then. I am not concerned where I will fight, if it will be in America or in Japan. I received a good proposal from Japan, but I'll go where I'm most valued. I have no problem if it will be in the Ultimate, in the new event in Japan, in the WEC. I am a fighter -- I don't choose opponents. I'll go where they pay what I am worth. I am fine, expecting contact, but I have to fulfill my contract. This is not the time to think about it. I have to focus and win the fights, then I can require what I deserve."

As for his fight this Wednesday, Filho warned that it would be a battle.

"I think it will be a thrilling fight because the guy has a very strong background of wrestling, and I also like very much to throw," Filho said. "It will be a war, but I think I am in front of him because I am a fighter of Brazilian jiu-jitsu. Any situation is good for me, which is not the case for him. I do not know how he would fight on his back. The best will win, the one who deserves it, who is better trained, but I think I have more cards up my sleeve than him."
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