Former WEC middleweight champion Paulo Filho, who has had more than his share of ups and downs over the past eighteen months, will be making a return trip to Japan at Dream 9 May 26th.
Tatame.com is reporting that Filho will fight a yet to be named opponent in the light heavyweight division.
Fihlo made his name fighting for Pride FC where he 8-0 by defeating such stars as Kazuo Misaki, Ryo Chonan and Murilo “Ninja Rua. He came to the United States with a perfect 14-0 record and was ranked as the number two middleweight by many major publications.
He signed with Zuffa and was immediately given a shot at the WEC middleweight title where he defeated Joe Doerksen via first round TKO. He then went on to successfully defend his title against Chael Sonnen but not without controversy. He was being handled pretty easily by Sonnen but was able to secure an armbar while on his back late in the second round. Sonnen verbally said he didn’t want to tap but the referee feared that his arm would snap and halted the bout setting up a rematch.
The two were scheduled to fight March 26th 2008 at WEC 33 but Filho pulled out of the bout and went into rehab for an undisclosed problem. The fight was rescheduled for WEC 36 but Filho weighed in at an outrageous seven pounds over the 185 pound limit, and after given time to shed the weight only managed to drop three more pounds, thus changing the fight from five rounds to three. Sonnen went on to defeat Filho by unanimous decision but the attention was on Filho as he looked to be talking to someone while in the cage. Filho did give Sonnen the belt after the fight but the championship was still Filho’s.
Zuffa decided to release the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu black belt and he has been on the shelf until now. He did turn down a chance to participate in the Bellator Fighting Championship middleweight tournament but felt the contract was too restrictive. Now the Japanese fans will get to see if he is back to the fighter he was and maybe fighting as a light heavyweight will suit him better. The report stated that Filho has been training with Ronald “Jacare” Souza to help him prepare for his return.