by Tom Hamlin – MMAWeekly.com
World Extreme Cagefighting middleweight champion Paulo Filho is back in Brazil and resting, according to manager Ed Soares.
The Brazilian was admitted to a Florida hospital shortly after his bout with Chael Sonnen at WEC 36 on Wednesday. Doctors noticed the pupils of Filho’s eyes were uneven and not focusing correctly, but a subsequent check-up revealed no permanent damage.
“He’s fine,” Soares said, although he added that Filho is not conducting any media interviews while recovering.
Filho’s bizarre performance raised serious questions about the toll his battles with depression and substance abuse had taken on him. Filho was visibly distracted during the fight, looking at an unknown object outside the cage in the later rounds of the fifteen-minute affair. Various reports have confirmed he was also talking to himself, mid-fight, in his native Portuguese tongue.
Soares says when he met Filho in Florida early this week, he wasn’t aware anything was wrong.
“Not at all,” he said. “I thought he was in the best spirits in the past two fights. I’m not a mind reader.”
Filho’s camp is currently putting together a game plan to get him focused.
“He’s had a rough year,” Soares said. “He felt he wasn’t prepared. Actually, he wasn’t prepared at all. We have to take baby steps to get him focused, to get him back on track.”
The damage Filho may have done to his career is unknown at this point. His bout with Sonnen came at a period of limbo for WEC middleweights, with the division set to be disbanded at the end of this year. It was widely expected that a win over Sonnen would have provided an open door to the UFC. Filho’s weight struggles, as well as his performance, have clearly placed that opportunity in doubt.
Soares says Filho’s team may move him to the U.S. as a first step to recovery, though nothing is concrete.
“Anyone who knows him knows that’s not Paulo Filho,” Soares said. “He didn’t show up.”