by Mitch Gobetz – MMAWeekly.com
On Sunday night, one of mixed martial arts most experienced fighters will take on one of the best middleweights in the world for the WEC Middleweight Title. Paulo Filho will be coming off a nine month layoff to take on the tough Canadian, Joe Doerksen. This fight has the potential to be a very technical and very intriguing battle.

Filho, who is the #3-ranked middleweight in the MMAWeekly World MMA Rankings, is an undefeated fighter who has beaten some tough competition along the way. Some of those names include Yuki Kondo, Amar Suloev, Murilo ‘Ninja’ Rua, Ryo Chonan and Kazuo Misaki. Many people felt that Filho would be UFC bound after the Fertitta’s purchase of PRIDE, but instead, Filho signed with the WEC. The signing of Filho instantly gives credibility to the WEC middleweight division.

Paulo Filho’s first fight will be for the Middleweight title, but he won’t have an easy opponent. Joe Doerksen has been around mixed martial arts for eight years and has fought some of the toughest competition out there. Compiling a record of 39-9, he is a very experienced, well rounded fighter.

Doerksen had originally been in the IFL prior to signing with the WEC, but just didn’t feel comfortable there. “My contract was for the season, but my team was knocked out anyway,” Doerksen explained. “I would definitely say it was a very good time there. I just don’t know if it was the right place for me. I just think I was heading into a different direction.” Most fighters in the IFL really enjoy the team concept, but Joe just simply couldn’t get used to it. “It was kind of tough for me. Having fought so many times in so many years, it was hard to think of myself as a team. The teammates were a great bunch of guys.”

After his team was knocked out of advancing, Doerksen was presented a deal from the WEC. They explained that he would fight for their middleweight title. “I signed a four fight deal with them. I think it’s time for me to do something big. I feel ready. I’m really excited.”

Even though Doerksen has had some peaks and valleys in his career, he is a very tough competitor and extremely tough to finish. Many fans have already looked past Doerksen, and think this will be a walk over win for Filho. “I think some people are, but I don’t blame them. I had so high profile fights where I dropped the ball,” said Doerksen. “Matt Lindland and Nate Marquardt come to mind. At the end of the day, they can say whatever they want. But I feel really good about this fight. There’s only one way to find out if I’m right or wrong.”

As we all know, styles make fights. This is why Doerksen is so confident in his ability to beat Filho. “I think our styles match up really well for me. My plan is to stay on my feet with him. I don’t think he’s better than me on the ground. But his stand up is his weak point. My strategy is simple: I want to punch him in the face. I really do think I can stop his takedowns. I can finish him standing or put him on his back and finish him there by TKO. I don’t think he has the time to get his stand up that much better. I really believe my stand up is better than his.”

Filho is extremely dangerous on the ground, but one new tool he’ll have to defend and utilize will be elbows. In the fight with Gabriel Gonzaga and Mirko Cro Cop, Gonzaga utilized elbows effectively. Cro Cop did not look ready for them and the lack of experience in a cage may have hindered his performance. Doerksen isn’t counting on Filho to be the same way though. “If he isn’t ready to fight in the cage, that sucks for him. But I’m expecting him to be ready for the cage.”

Conditioning will be a major factor in this fight. The championship fighter is a five rounder, and that is not something Filho and Doerksen are used to. Filho has had a tendency to take some fights to decision and Doerksen is extremely tough to finish. Doerksen explained to MMAWeekly how his conditioning is. “My conditioning’s terrible. I’m not ready at all,” replied Doerksen sarcastically. “I’ve been preparing myself for five rounds. I’ve fought five rounds before.”

This fight this weekend has all the makings to be a great fight. Two great, highly skilled competitors will clash. Filho’s undefeated record is on the line, and for Doerksen, this could be his last chance to get to the top. “I feel like I’ve paid my dues. It’s time for me to go out there and make some noise.” Doerksen wasn’t shy about offering a prediction either. “I think something will happen in the second or third. I’m gonna win by TKO late in the second or early in the third.”