by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
One of the early favorites to win the upcoming Pride Bushido 183-pound Grand Prix has to be Paulo Filho of the Brazilian Top Team.
With an undefeated record of 10-0 and wins over the likes of Yuki Kondo, Amar Suloev and Murilo “Ninja” Rua, there’s no question that Filho has the credentials.
“It is a dream coming true,” said Filho of his inclusion in the Grand Prix. “I was waiting for this moment for a long time.”
Originally, Paulo was scheduled to face Korean fighter Yoon Dong Sik in the first round of the tournament, but Sik was forced to bow out of the tournament due to injury.
Replacing Sik will be Frenchman Gregory Bouchelaghem, and while Filho’s strategy was originaly formulated to face Sik, his gameplan for Bouchelaghem should not change much.
“I guess I will try to take him down and submit him using my Jiu-Jitsu skills,” said Paulo of his general strategy.
Another participant in the tournament will be Filho’s BTT teammate and mentor, Murilo Bustamante, which leads to the possibility of a match between the two.
According to Paulo, if the two do face off, it won’t be an issue. Instead, it will be an opportunity to showcase what the Brazilian Top Team is all about. “If we face each other, it will be in the finals,” explained Filho. “We are professionals, and we would give a good fight to the fans.” Paulo continued, “Moreover, the BTT will be champ, no matter who wins the fight” if he meets Bustamante in the finals.
Filho feels that with two fighters representing the BTT in the tournament, his team has a very good chance of making it to the finals. “We have a good chance [of making the finals], even if we had just one representative in the GP,” exclaimed Paulo. “Since [we have two fighters in the tournament], we have 50 percent more chances of being in the final match.”
As for possibly getting a chance to face Dan Henderson for the Pride Welterweight Championship, Filho feels that if he gets the opportunity, he has just as good of a shot as anyone does to dethrone the champ.
“Dan is a great opponent, but this time it is going to be harder for him,” commented Paulo. “I will be there, and I really want his title.”
Filho concluded, “I respect him a lot, but I guess I can beat him with the strategy that I am working right now.”