by Jeff Cain – MMAWeekly.com
Chael Sonnen traveled to Hollywood, Fla. with the goal of
winning the World Extreme Cagefighting middleweight title and avenging a
previous loss to Paulo Filho. He avenged the loss, but left the "Sunshine
State" without the belt.
Originally scheduled as a five-round title bout, the fight
was relegated to a three-round non-title match after Filho failed to make
weight. Sonnen was disappointed that his title shot ended when Filho stepped on
the scales, but he tried to remain focused on the fight. "It was heartbreaking.
It really hurt me alot. And I sort of went through the denial phase to make it
through the 24 hours," Sonnen said at the post-fight press conference.
"I even kind of had to lie to myself in order to put it
out of my mind. But I worked really hard and I wanted to get that
championship," added the 31-year old fighter. "I can’t spin it any
other way. It really hurt."
After officially weighing in four pounds over the 185-pound
limit, Filho allegedly commented that he’d give Sonnen the belt if he lost. He
lost, but the belt wasn’t handed over. Asked about the situation, Sonnen said,
"I did hear that rumor. I heard he said he would surrender it, that he
would count this as a championship match. Of course that wouldn’t be official,
but just something between the two of us. And I would have accepted. I’m that
desperate for the championship and to have that goal fulfilled that I would
have humbly accepted that belt from him. But no, he didn’t offer it to
The fight itself was bizarre. Filho never engaged Sonnen and
outside of pulling guard a few times, did very little of anything. "Every
time I envisioned the match and played it through in my head, the different
scenarios, I never once envisioned him not fighting back," said the Team
Quest trained Sonnen. "I never envisioned him just laying there. I didn’t
know what to do."
"It was similar to being at a dance with a partner who
doesn’t know how to dance. It really threw me off," he added. "There
was even a couple of scenarios on his feet where he turned away. I didn’t know
if it was a vision problem. If he got a little disoriented or
if he was baiting me in. I’ve never seen it. I’ve never seen it in
another fight. I haven’t had it done to me in a practice or competition, so I
was definitely thrown off. It made me be real
cautious. And I regret that a little bit."