Category Archives: WEC

Paulo Filho Goes to Rehab

First Paulo Filho pulled out of his rematch with Chael Sonnen, citing depression.  Then the WEC middleweight champion changed his mind and got back in.  Now he’s out again, and this time it may stick.  Filho has reportedly checked himself into rehab for a non-specific chemical dependency problem.  Hmmm.  Depression.  Huge muscles.  Trouble making weight.  Mercurial behavior.  I wonder what he’s on…

Honestly, it’s hard not to feel for Paulo Filho right now.  Ever since I saw the video clip of him getting seriously concerned for Ricardo Arona and his stab wounds, I’ve had a soft spot for the guy.  We saw glimpses of his almost uncomfortable sincerity when he initially pulled out of this rematch, basically saying that he was too sad to train.  Now that he’s entering rehab I feel equal parts disappointed and relieved.

Filho seems like he needs help, and we all hope he gets it.  His manager, Jorge Guimaraes, had this to say to Sherdog about the situation:

 “We tried our best with Filho, but it didn’t work and he’ll not fight in the WEC. He tried with all his effort to accomplish the title defense, but he realized he couldn’t do it due to chemical dependence and depression. He knew this kind of stuff does not have a link with the sport, and I’m happy he had a conscience and looked for help…The WEC staff was superb with us. They understood the situation, and Filho will return and defend his belt in June.”

Now, I’m no addiction specialist, but June seems like a quick comeback.  That gives him three months to get clean and get into fighting shape.  If I were Filho’s friend, I might advise him to deal with one issue at a time.  First kick this drug problem and get your mind right.  Then get back in the gym and think about fighting again.  The stress of preparing for a title fight doesn’t seem entirely conducive to focusing on sobriety.

Let’s hope Filho has friends who can give him this kind of advice, rather than managers who might have other priorities.  For now, let’s all enjoy this Zapruder film of Filho taking on recent IFL addition Alexandre “Cacareco” Ferreira in a no-gi grappling match in Brazil.  Watch for the totally sweet suplex from “Cacareco” just after the two-minute mark.  As this video makes clear, Brazilians love them some grappling.  Sounds like a soccer match in there.  Enjoy.


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Filed under MMA, Paulo Filho, Sports, WEC

WEC: The Tribal Arm Band of MMA Has Another Good Night

kick-assAs much as I enjoy making fun of the WEC, they have been putting on some entertaining shows in the last few months. The production values aren’t great, and their play-by-play announcer makes Mike Goldberg seem like a seasoned vet, but their fights thrive on action and unpredictability. Last night’s show saw several back and forth bouts, proving that focusing on the lighter weight classes really is a solid strategy.

One thing I wonder about, though, is the scoring problems in the Manny Tapia-Antonio Banuelos fight. If you didn’t see it, this was a very close, exciting bantamweight bout, and after three rounds I had some difficulty picking the winner. I wasn’t alone, apparently, because while one of the judges ruled it for Tapia and one for Banuelos, the third ruled it 29-29, a draw. Naturally, this was met with disapproval from the crowd and tepid disappointment from the fighters, the way a draw is guaranteed to do.

But wait! There was a scoring error! Everyone come back. Cage announcer Joe Martinez is about to try and get everyone’s attention like a junior high school vice principal at an assembly. Now the scores have been corrected, and the winner is Tapia! Hooray for Tapia!

Now, I don’t want to get all grassy knoll here, especially not with a bantamweight fight in the WEC, which would rank somewhere below a fixed student council vote as far as conspiracies go, but I have to say that I found this odd. What kind of scoring errors can happen when we’re only counting to thirty? It’s not as if that third judge really meant to score the last round 10-9 and his math skills failed him. Something isn’t quite right there. No wonder they had such a hard time tallying the results of the recent primary in New Mexico. Addition just isn’t their thing.  Mullets and dirty mustaches, however?  They’ve got that stuff on lockdown.

That bit of suspicious reckoning aside, it was a good night for the WEC. What their fighters lack in polish, they make up for with intensity and enthusiasm. Kind of like a good, seedy strip club. Maybe that’s why I look forward to their next offering, even if it means sitting through their tribal arm band opening graphics, which simply could not be more fitting for so many different reasons.

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Filed under MMA, Sports, WEC

WEC Takes A Step Forward

I know I’ve already written about the underwhelming feeling I usually get from watching the WEC on Versus, but even I’m willing to admit that last night’s event was a major breakthrough for them.  It featured three titles on the line, one long-simmering grudge match, and at least one back-and-forth battle that was exciting despite the fact that I’d never heard of either of the combatants.

That’s not to say that the WEC still doesn’t have some issues.  While I understand the need for them to perform in small venues (as in, so small that the walk from the dressing room to the ring seems to be about eight steps) and model their organization on TV revenue and not live gate numbers, I’m still annoyed that they have to cut to commercial after the fight ends, then come back to announce the “official decision”, even when the fight ended definitively in a TKO or submission, then go back to commercial before the next fight.  Yes, that’s all part of broadcasting on live free TV, but it’s still aggravating.

Also, am I the only one who thinks Frank Mir is a little too unpolished as an announcer?  Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy.  He seems knowledgeable and fair.  He also seems a little bit too much like a Will Ferrell character at times.

But enough complaining.

The card was a strong one last night, and in one of the more bizarre endings of the night Paulo Filho retained his middleweight championship belt after some early scares from Chael Sonnen.  Sonnen out-struck Filho in the early going and put him down with ease, almost finishing him in the first.  But in the second round it seemed as if Sonnen got a little careless in Filho’s guard, which is usually a mistake when you’re fighting a jiu-jitsu black belt.

Filho locked on the arm bar and Sonnen, while obviously in pain, appeared not to have tapped when the referee stepped in to stop the bout.  He even claimed that he told the referee he was not submitting, but the fight was stopped anyway with only five seconds left in the round.

That has to be a hard one for Sonnen to accept.  He had the fight under control and just made one little mistake that Filho capitalized on.  To his credit, he didn’t complain too much about the stoppage.  It didn’t look like he was getting out of that armbar and with five seconds to go he might well have had his elbow bent back if he tried waiting it out.  Still, to be that close to winning a title and let it slip away has to be frustrating.

In another title fight, Doug “The Rhino” Marshall defended his light heavyweight belt against Ariel Gandulla, winning by armbar submission just under a minute into the fight.  First of all, Ariel is a girl’s name.  Second, why does Marshall have a giant Iron Cross tattoo on his chest?  Is he some kind of neo-Nazi, or did he just see it on a skateboard and think it was cool?  The plethora of other tattoos he has make me think the former, and while we could argue all day long about the connotations of the Iron Cross in the modern world, it’s still weird.  Just like it was weird when, after winning the fight, Marshall leapt out of the cage and began high-fiving people at ringside.

The grudge match that the WEC hyped between Jens Pulver and Cub Swanson turned out to be anti-climactic, as Pulver choked him into submission inside of thirty seconds and nary a punch was thrown.  So much for Swanson’s big talk about how Pulver was afraid of him.

Urijah Faber survived early trouble against Jeff Curran to retain his featherweight title with a second-round submission due to a guillotine choke.  Faber is looking more and more like the real deal at 145 lbs, or, as the WEC announcer who is not Frank Mir claimed last night, “Faber is a devastator and an innovator.”  Yeah.

Now it looks as though Faber and Pulver will face off next, and that should be an interesting style contrast but I still have to give the edge to Faber.  It makes me wonder whether the Zuffa-owned WEC will ever make a play for some of the great 145-ers currently languishing in the Asian market, or whether they’re content to keep the mini Beach Boy-esque Faber as their champ as long as there is still fresh meat to throw at him every once in a while.

Good show for the WEC, as a whole.  Some great action and enough fights to keep my interest on a Wednesday night.  After this event and the TUF Finale before it, though, is there a single MMA fan in America who doesn’t know about the new Rambo movie?  Just saying, the ad blitz is pretty intense.  Let the bodies hit the floor.  Stallone is Rambo.

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Filed under Jens Pulver, MMA, Paulo Filho, Sports, Urijah Faber, WEC

Reasons to Like Paulo Filho

I’ll be honest: there’s something about the WEC that fails to generate any excitement in me. Sure, I watch it when it comes on. It’s MMA and it’s free on an obscure cable channel I actually get (Versus), so why not? But I can’t help but notice that the fights are often mismatches that end quickly and there is a Wednesday-Night-Fights-at-the-VFW-Hall kind of feel to the whole thing.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t gotten too worked up about tonight’s show, wherein Jeff Curran will challenge Urijah Faber for the WEC featherweight title and Paulo Filho will defend his middleweight belt against Chael Sonnen.

Then I saw this training video of Paulo Filho. Now I’m pretty excited.

I realize that he might have been putting on a little bit of a show for the cameras here, but it’s still pretty great. You have to love that he’s training in what seems to be a public park, using a rusted barbell that looks like it was taken out of someone’s garage after their teenage son wasn’t using it. Plus, Ricardo Arona makes an appearance to show off scars from a recent knife fight, and Filho seems so genuinely concerned about him.

(Note to Arona: what are you doing getting into fights, much less with armed combatants? What is wrong with you? Seriously. You’re a professional fighter. Stay out of bar fights, especially in Brazil. Don’t you know they’re crazy down there? Stick with Paulo. He seems like such a nice boy.)


Filed under MMA, Paulo Filho, Sports, Uncategorized, WEC