After weighing in at 192 pounds during his initial attempt in anticipation of tonight’s WEC middleweight title defense against Chael Sonnen, Brazilian Paulo Filho weighed in at 190 pounds yesterday afternoon during his second and final attempt.
By weighing in at five pounds over the 185 pound limit, Filho’s will be unable to defend his title against Sonnen. However, a three-round non-title encounter between the two combantants was agreed upon with Sonnen set to be awarded 25% of Filho’s purse, according to a report on the WEC’s official website.
Additionally, a report on MMA Weekly indicates that Filho’s camp has made verbal assurances to Sonnen’s trainer Matt Lindland that they will make a symbolic gesture of presenting Sonnen with the belt should he be able to defeat Filho.
While the relegation of tonight’s scheduled bout from a title encounter to a non-title affair has to be a disappointment to Sonnen, the fact is that Zuffa (the parent company of both the UFC and the WEC) officials had previously announced that it would be discontinuing the WEC’s 185 pound and 205 pound divisions following Dec. 3’s WEC 37 event. Even if tonight’s title designation had remained in tact, the winning fighter would cease to be recognized as the WEC middleweight champion once the impending middleweight shutdown was completed.
While a title will not be officially on the line, the stakes for tonight’s matchup between Filho and Sonnen could still be high. According to a report in a recent print edition of the Wrestling Observer, the winners of the WEC’s remaining middleweight and light heavyweight fights will be granted entry into the UFC with the losers expected to receive their releases from Zuffa, barring an exceptional showing.
For Filho, tonight’s fight could be crucial as it relates to his future in the sport. Despite being ranked as a top five middleweight in all major rankings polls, his stock has likely declined over the course of the past year due to lackluster performances in the cage and great deal of personal issues outside of it. His failure to make weight comes in light of reports earlier this year that Filho sought in-patient treatment for depression and a chemical dependency.
Filho’s personal setbacks forced two postponements of the rematch between him and Sonnen that had originally been scheduled for WEC 33 on March 6 in response to their controversial first meeting at WEC 31 last December. Following Filho’s in-patient treatment earlier this year, the bout was rescheduled for WEC 34 on June 1 but was postponed yet again due to Filho’s inability to properly prepare. It was postponed a third time this past September after the prospect of Hurricane Ike forced WEC 36 to be moved to Nov. 5.
Unless Filho performs well tonight, Zuffa officials could determine that his baggage outweighs his talents and that there is simply no room for him in the UFC. Filho has already made it clear that he has no intentions of fighting current UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva. He has also publicly discussed uncertainty about continuing to compete at middleweight, which would make him an undersized candidate for the promotion’s stacked light heavyweight division.
Filho’s perfect 16-0 record will also be on the line. While it may seem as though the added weight will give him an advantage, the jury is still out. From an asthetic standpoint, Filho did not appear to be in as good condition during Tuesday’s weigh-in as he has been in the past. The additional weight may not help as it could be an indication that he did not properly prepare for tonight’s bout.