by Mick Hammond – MMAWeekly.com
Pride’s Bushido 10 show this past weekend proved to be a night of upsets. And while many are talking about Marcus Aurelio’s huge win over Takanori Gomi, an upset in ways on a slightly smaller scale worth mentioning is Paulo Filho’s win over the more experience Murilo “Ninja” Rua earlier in the night.
Heading into the fight many had Rua chosen to win the fight and there was good reason. Compared to Filho who had nine fights going into the match, Ninja had fifteen fights. The level of opposition they had faced was also decidedly different, with Rua having faced bigger competition.
Ninja had appeared to be the more complete fighting heading into battle. Known for the strikes that made his team Chute Boxe world famous, Rua had also shown a lot of skill on the ground, stifling the attack of Brazilian Top Team fighters Mario Sperry and Ricardo Arona in the past.
Filho on the other hand was known strictly as a ground fighter and not an overly active one at that. Striking didn’t seem an option even though the BTT has improved overall in that area over the last few years.
Yet when the match started it was Paulo, not Murilo, who looked like the veteran fighter, applying his gameplan effectively throughout the fight, and that was the difference. Superior preparation and planning helped lead Filho towards victory at Bushido 10.
Right away when Rua went for strikes, Paulo would stay low and immediately go for a body lock and take the fight to the ground. There he would remain patient, as Ninja had shown ability in the past to be very slippery and escape from underneath overeager fighters.
On when he felt he had grinded Ninja down enough that he could open up his game did Filho open up, and even then he was conservative throughout the fight. Keeping constant controlled pressure on, Paulo never allowed Ninja to get out of bad positioning throughout the entire fight.
While Filho’s style won’t win him any style points, it was effective enough to keep Rua completely off his game the whole fight and get the unanimous decision victory.
So now where does each fighter go? Most likely both are headed to this year’s Welterweight Grand Prix to determine a number one contender to Dan Henderson’s title, of which a match should take place most likely at Shockwave 2006.
Paulo with of course have momentum on his side and will become a favorite in the GP and may get a higher profile opponent. Murilo on the other hand should not be despondent even though he continues to be one of the most snake-bitten fighters in Pride. And with a 16-man field, Pride would be hard pressed to keep him out.
With the world mostly abuzz over Marcus Aurelio and what may turn into the upset of the year, it was not the only one at Bushido 10. Not only did Paulo Filho take a big step towards establishing himself as a force in MMA by defeating Murilo Rua, but he also go that much closer to bringing a long-awaited Pride Championship back to the BTT.