Brazilian middleweight Paulo Filho apparently won’t be accepting an invitation to train with Chuck Liddell in advance of “The Iceman’s” match with Wanderlei Silva, according to Brazilian website Tatame. Though he’ll be in the U.S. to defend his WEC title, and though he has previously made it known just how much he hates Chute Boxe fighters, of which Silva is one, it seems as though his nationalist pride is what’s keeping him from helping Liddell:
“I would never train with an American to fight with a Brazilian,” Filho said, in Portuguese. “I am not a slut or a prostitute.”
Those are pretty strong words from Filho, who’s known for saying what’s on his mind. And while I think he might be making a little too much out of this, it does bring up important questions about the fluidity of training and training partners in MMA.
Before a big fight you always hear about who a fighter went and trained with. Most of his work will be done at his home gym, but he might spend a week in Oregon with Team Quest or in southern California with Dan Henderson. He might go out to Vegas and train with Randy Couture or up to Bettendorf with the Miletich camp. With so many fighters criss-crossing the country to find new training partners, it’s bound to happen that you end up training a guy one of your teammates will eventually fight, and maybe even giving away some of his arsenal in the process.
Of course, we don’t need to make this into a huge deal. Everyone knows what Team Quest fighters like to do without having to set foot in the Team Quest gym (which is, by the way, a great place to overhear an argument about who took the last can of Skoal). But that also doesn’t mean you want your opponent to have intimate knowledge of how you train and what your gym spends their time on.
Filho’s reasons for refusal are of a different nature, however. Even though he hates Chute Boxe and, by extension, Wanderlei, they’re still both Brazilians. It’s especially understandable when you consider that Brazilians have long felt it difficult to get a fair shake in America. They think close decisions will always go against them, and if they’re fighting an American fighter they had better finish the fight. It’s similar to what many American fighters feel about fighting in Japan.
How justified those feelings are is difficult to say. And it does seem a little unnecessary for Filho to insist he’s not a prostitute, unless somehow there was a mistranslation and he thought that instead of being asked to train with Liddell he was being asked to have sex with Liddell for money, in which case it would be an understandable reaction (and really, don’t most English phrases translate into Portuguese that way?). But at the same time, I agree with his sentiment. Why should he help an American beat one of his countrymen?
Then again, that door swings both ways. If this is the stance Filho is going to take, he’d better be content to train only with fellow Brazilians for the rest of his career, because people are bound to remember this statement. That means no swapping training tips with Matt Lindland over a can of Skoal in the near future, which is both a good and bad thing.