It appears that Chael Sonnen will be able to fulfill the wish of his ill father by presenting him with the WEC middleweight title after all.
Sonnen had been scheduled to fight Paulo Filho at WEC 36 this past Wednesday in a five-round bout in which Filho’s middleweight title would be at stake. However, Filho failed to meet his contracted weight requirement of 185 pounds and the match was switched to a three-round non-title affair.
Soon after Tuesday’s weigh-ins, a report surfaced on MMA Weekly that quoted Matt Lindland, Sonnen’s trainer, as saying that Filho’s camp had agreed to hand the title over to Sonnen in the event that he was able to win the fight. Despite Sonnen’s unanimous decision victory, Filho retained possession of the title.
However, according to an SI.com report by Josh Gross, Filho’s manager, Ed Soares, has confirmed that Sonnen will be presented the belt.
“Flying back to Los Angeles from Florida the day after what was supposed to be a five-round championship fight, Filho’s manager, Ed Soares, said he planned on shipping the belt to Sonnen as soon as he could,” writes Gross.
While Sonnen will take possession of the title, he will not be officially recognized as a WEC middleweight title holder. He will also not receive an opportunity to win the title outright, as the WEC is shutting down its middleweight division following its WEC 37 event on Dec. 3.
Filho’s defeat, the first of his 17 fight career, capped off a strange and turbulent week for the talented Brazilian grappler. After having his rematch vs. Sonnen postponed three times — once due to weather but twice due to issues stemming from an inpatient stay to treat depression and chemical dependency problems — Filho weighed in at 192 pounds on Tuesday during his initial attempt. He was given two additional hours to meet the required limit of 185 pounds, but still fell short, weighing in during his second and final attempt at 189 pounds.
During the fight, Filho refused to engage Sonnen in the standup and at times during the fight looked disinterested and even despondent. According to Gross’ report, Filho was apparently unaware the fight had even ended after being informed in the locker room that he had lost. It appears that there was even enough concern in regard to Filho that he was examined at a local hospital following the event.
“Soon, Filho drew attention from doctors when the dilation of his pupils didn’t match,” Gross reported. “Later that evening, however, the 30-year-old grappler was released from a local hospital, his eyes functioning as close to normal as they’d done all night.”
The former PRIDE star’s fighting future is now uncertain. A report by the Brazilian website Tatame indicates that Filho will move his training camp from Brazil to Los Angeles with one of his coach’s, Josuel Distak, quoted as saying that Filho will be moving to light heavyweight.
With the WEC disbanding its middleweight and light heavyweight divisions, Filho will have to move over to the UFC in order to remain employed with Zuffa. However, after Wednesday’s bizarre performance, Gross indicates that a chance to compete in the Octagon is less than certain at this point. Long-time MMA reporter Dave Meltzer also wrote in his Thursday update on the Figure Four website to “not expect to see Paulo Filho fighting in UFC or WEC for a long, long time.”