Once considered to be among the Top 5 middleweights in the world between 2005 and 2008, former World Extreme Cage Fighting champion Paulo Filho analyzed the top of the UFC heavyweight and lightweight divisions in a recent interview with Sherdog.com.
"I dont see any need for Jon Jones to gain weight to enter in the heavyweight division. His technical level is so superior to [Francis] Ngannou and [Stipe] Miocic that I truly believe he can beat both, even weighing 205 pounds. Ngannou is a one-punch fighter and Miocic has less tools than Jones. I see clearly Jon Jones as future heavyweight champion at the end of 2021.”
As far as the lightweight division goes, the Carlson Gracie black belt believes that former Bellator champion Michael Chandler will eventually capture UFC gold.
"I was really impressed with this kid. He is such a solid fighter — wrestling, cardio, explosion and knockout power in one single package. Considering the Top 5 of that division, I see Charles [Oliveira] as the only one who can bring some trouble to his game. Except for [Khabib Nurmagomedov], I see him as a favorite against any of the Top 5 [in the division].
Tabbed by Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira, as the fighter with the strongest ground game at Brazilian Top Team during his prime, Filho was also called the best middleweight in the world by Anderson Silva in 2006. The same year that Silva won the UFC middleweight belt, Filho defeated Murilo Rua and submitted Kazuo Misaki in the semifinals of the Pride Bushido middleweight grand prix. Due to a knee injury, Filho didn’t compete in the finals, and Misaki filled in, defeating Denis Kang to win the Pride grand prix belt a few minutes after being submitted by Filho. The following year, Filho captured the WEC belt with a TKO win against Joe Doerksen and defended the title four months later by submitting Chael Sonnen. Unfortunately, Filho’s battles with drug addiction hampered his training, and after losing the belt in a rematch with Sonnen in November 2008, he never reached the levels of his prime again.
Retired from MMA since 2014, Filho is currently dealing with a serious arthrosis on his hips. Due to difficulty walking, he has gained approximately 66 pounds the past two years.
"I was going to have prosthesis surgery when the COVID pandemic came. I’m looking forward to solving that problem this year and returning to training,” Filho said.
The 42-year-old Filho even has a plan to return to competition with close friend and BTT stablemate Ricardo Arona, who is the same age.
"We are retired from MMA but we want to test ourselves against new generation in a jiu-jitsu or grappling competittion,” he said. “Even being older, there is no way we enter in master or senior division. Our goal is test our skills with the best. We will always have Carlson Gracie´s roots and mentality.”
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