Filho Discusses PRIDE GP Injury and Future Plans

By Gleidson Venga Nov 14, 2006
Paulo Filho (Pictures) was the favorite to become PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix champion two weeks ago. A knee injury, however, forced him out of the final match against Denis Kang (Pictures).

After defeating his semifinal opponent Kazuo Misaki (Pictures), who replaced Filho in the final fight, the Brazilian powerhouse spoke with about the injury and discussed his secret to being undefeated in mixed martial arts. You were examined in Brazil. What did doctors say about your knee?

Paulo Filho (Pictures): It was a rupture of my knee’s membrane, that’s why I couldn’t move my leg. It was hurting a lot. This was causing me so much pain that I couldn’t go back into the fight. And how long will you have to be out of action?

Filho: I was actually worried that it was a ligament problem, because the pain I was feeling was close to this. Thank God wasn’t anything serious and this is not the case. In 10 days after the surgery I will be fine. How do you analyze your fight against Kazuo Misaki (Pictures)?

Filho: That was exactly what I was planning to do, pure jiu-jitsu. I gave him no space and it worked. I’m training really hard with Amaury Bitetti, Carlos Baruch, Roan Carneiro (Pictures), Luiz Firmino (Pictures), several friends of mine, with Josuel Distak working my boxing. That was exactly what I was planning to do: don’t miss any position, and look for the submission. What do you think about the fact of Misaki being the champion?

Filho: He was doing a really good job. He beat tough athletes, so I think this was fair enough. Do you expect the Japanese to schedule another fight between you and Misaki?

Filho: The Japanese like this kind of thing a lot. I hope so, this will be good for me. You had convincing victories over your opponents, but you had an injury and couldn’t be in the final. Denis Kang (Pictures) fought until the end even with three injuries. He faced Misaki. Do you think that events like this Grand Prix are the best way to name a champion, or do you prefer one fight every event?

Filho: I think that a grand prix is not the best way for an athlete to show his best. This can only show who is the luckiest athlete. The thing that happened to me was very unusual. I didn’t hurt my face. Nothing happened to me during the fight. Suddenly something happened that people couldn’t understand because we were not able to see. How can someone figure that my knee was hurt that way? Now, with the results of the test on my hand, I’m making some copies to send to the magazines, to Japan, to show to them all that. If it wasn’t because of this injury, I would be in perfect condition to fight. But Denis Kang (Pictures) had an arm injury, so, this would be unfair to him. But his injury couldn’t make him unable to fight; my injury made me stop. Only the one who suffered an injury like this knows how hard it is. The leg becomes hard, impossible to move it, because it hurts like hell. Misaki lost to me, but he didn’t get hurt. He came back. Denis Kang (Pictures) felt his arm injury, and that fight rolled as we saw. I think that it should be one fight every event. How do you analyze this year in your career?

Filho: It was a very good year for me, but that’s what happens. We swim, swim, and we die at the beach. But I could win a good money, I had fun times. I fought. Let us see how it is going to be next year, if I will be able to crowd 2007 with honors. Tell us about your boxing sessions with Josuel Distak.

Filho: This training method is very focused. Distak tries to include everything that can happen during a fight, without forgetting anything. What happens with BJJ fighters such as myself during the fight is that we have to put the guy down, to execute our game plan, so then we are able to made 30-50 percent of our physical condition. We are trying hard to find the perfect distance to takedown and hold the position without getting gassed out. We were doing a very intensive sparring session, doing the pendulum and then taking down Jucão, Amaury Bitetti, Baruch. I was always in a disadvantage because I was already tired and I would hang on them taking me down. I think this came very close to the real fight. It is a focused training, on what’s going to happen during the fight. Everything I’ve trained there really happened in the ring. You basically train boxing so you don’t suffer a lot before the takedown. Am I right?

Filho: I really like to train boxing, but I’m not good enough to make myself comfortable to strike on my feet. I can try it, but I’m a Carlson Gracie’s black belt and he always warned us to avoid the strikes because the gloves are too thin and something bad can happen. So I try to take the fight where it is safe for me. That’s your secret to remaining undefeated?

Filho: For sure. I try to minimize the risk the most I can. So I don’t keep myself striking on my feet. I don’t miss any position. I avoid letting the fight back to the feet. I work on my positions. I can make my opponent gas out while keeping myself comfortable. I think this is the secret, to hit and not to be hit. You have been training a lot with Amaury Bitetti recently. How is training with him?

Filho: Amaury is a guy with very improved BJJ skills. He is old school; Carlson’s school; Osvaldo Alves’ school. He has a lot of things to teach. He improved my full mount position, my positioning. He was my friend all the time, my buddy. We established the hours of the training sessions and he was never late, never failed. He’s a big friend of mine who proved what kind of fighter he is. I think that his presence was mainly important to the things that happened. We have the same point of view. He made a point not to miss any position. He won’t let MMA move his head away from they goal, which unfortunately happened with other athletes who want to made a little bit of everything in the ring. And they forget their origins. This is when the unexpected happens. Your weight class has been in flux lately, with Anderson Silva fighting in the UFC, Murilo Rua (Pictures) in Cage Rage and PRIDE promoting a Grand Prix. What do you think about your division?

Filho: Actually these under 83-kg athletes were under 93-kg who always weighed 89-90 kilos. Then these guys saw this all-new weight class raising, and they cut weight. Everybody is cutting weight, including me, Misaki, Denis Kang (Pictures), The only one who didn’t cut weight there is Gono. So this was guys who weighed 90-kg and they all are in this new weight class, which made this division become more competitive. What do you have to say to your fans that cheered for you in this PRIDE tournament?

Filho: I want to apologize for this. If it was another kind of injury, I would be fighting. I fought with a broken hand after a car crash. I fought very hurt before. This time I couldn’t, so I’m sorry for all my fans, and thanks for the support. This is really important to me, makes me glad. You will see me in the next year, and next year will be better for all of us.
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