by Damon Martin – MMAWeekly.com
Paulo Filho started his career with 16 straight wins en route to being considered one of the top middleweights in the world, but much of that mystique came crashing down after a loss to Chael Sonnen recently.

Now that his official release from the WEC has come down, Filho’s manager, Ed Soares, told MMAWeekly Radio that he wasn’t surprised by what happened after his fighter’s strange performance in the cage that night.

“It didn’t surprise me. I mean his performance wasn’t that great, but they had to do what they had to do,” Soares said about the release. “The WEC has been totally great and supportive and it was just unfortunate that anybody that’s seen Paulo Filho fight knows that, that wasn’t the real Paulo Filho. For many different reasons, I’m sure he just wasn’t himself.”

Still, Soares thinks that Filho has the competitive nature and skill to be one of the best fighters in the world.

“I still think he’s one of the best middleweights in the world. It was his first loss. It was a poor performance, but he’s a warrior and he’s a fighter,” Soares stated. “He’s going to come back. He’s got to get his life straight. He’s had a rough year. He had some personal issues to go through, and had his first loss, and I think (in 2009) we’re going to see a different Paulo Filho.”

As far as what options lie ahead for the Brazilian, his manage said the door to Zuffa hasn’t been shut, although nothing was mentioned about a possible return for the fighter following his WEC release either. Other options have presented themselves already, but Soares says there is a higher priority for now.

“There’s been a few opportunities that came up, but right now we’re really focused on him and getting him back on track,” he said. “I’m sure there are going to be other opportunities out there. There’s quite a few. I mean we’re bummed out we left Zuffa. We’re bummed that he got dropped, but we have to go on, we have to go back to the drawing board and rebuild him.

“Right now we just want to make sure he gets back in and focused and just get his life in order. That’s first and foremost before we worry about what deal we’re going to get.”

Soares did confirm that for the immediate future, Filho still plans on competing in the middleweight division, and while there is a chance the former Pride star could return to the land of the rising sun, nothing has been determined yet.

“It’s not for sure Japan. It could be wherever the best offer is right now,” Soares explained about Filho’s fight future.