Paulo Filho wants to fight, and he says the World Series of Fighting will have to pay him if they don’t let him get back in its cage. However, it looks like the Brazilian won’t get any of it.
The PRIDE veteran and former WEC middleweight champion signed a multi-fight deal with WSOF a year ago, but WSOF president Ray Sefo wasn’t happy with his performance in his three-round fight with David Branch two months later.
"The whole Ray Sefo thing was a misunderstanding," Filho told MMAFighting.com. "He didn’t like my fight? OK, no problem. I was injured and he should have known that. I have all the exams to prove it. But I went there and fought, I did my part. I’m not what they saw, I’m better than that and they know it."
Sefo indicated Filho wouldn’t have another shot in the promotion, and the Brazilian thinks they should give him a fight -- or just pay him to stay home.
"My contract has an interesting clause, with good numbers," he said. "If one of the sides wants to end the contract, they have to pay big money. But if they don’t want me there, that’s fine. Pay me what you have to pay and I’ll just go home to relax (laughs)."
Asked how much WSOF would have to pay him to end the contract, Filho said "let’s say I wouldn’t do anything else for the rest of my life."
It won’t be that easy, though, according to WSOF executive vice president Ali Abdel-Aziz.
Following a unanimous decision loss inside the WSOF cage, Filho fought to a draw against Rodney Wallace at Selva MMA in Acre, Brazil. The Brazilian is set to fight Andre Muniz (5-3) for the Bitetti Combat middleweight championship next on Feb. 6 in Manaus, but his contract with the WSOF doesn’t allow him to compete in other promotions.
"Legally, he should not fight at any other event but us because he’s under a contract with us," Abdel-Aziz told MMAFighting.com. "If he needs to fight and support his family, he can do that, but he never asked for our permission. I never gave him permission to fight anywhere.
"We’re not going after him for fighting somewhere else. Paulo Filho fought for us and he was not focused. His management was the worst management I’ve ever worked with. He has two managers and they both were fighting each other. He was coming to New Jersey and he missed his flight two times, and he was very unprofessional. It was very hard for us to bring him to the United States."
Abdel-Aziz says WSOF doesn’t owe Filho anything, and it’s unlikely he’ll compete again under the promotion’s banner.
"I’m not interested on having him fighting for us again," he said. "The guy is such a legend, I respect the guy. At one point he was one of the best guys in the world and I respect him. But, at the same time, I think he’s going through a lot of personal problems. I don’t know how he’s feeling now, but I wish him the best."
The only way Filho could earn another shot inside the World Series of Fighting cage is if he proves he’s ready to compete again, once that WSOF is planning a trip to Brazil in 2014.
"If I know he’s training and he’s focused, maybe. I don’t know," Abdel-Aziz said. "He didn’t ask for our permission for this fight and that’s something I’m going to have to talk with him about. We have to honor our contracts. We’re men.
"If we need him in Brazil, I’ll use him, but for now I don’t have any interest in having him fighting for us again."
Before he returns (or not) to the WSOF cage, the PRIDE veteran battles Muniz in Manaus and plans to cut a few pounds for his upcoming fights.
"I’m not thinking too much ahead, I’m just living a day at a time," the Brazilian said. "I’m working to cut down to 170, but I got this opportunity and couldn’t say no. I was already at 185 when I got the offer. After this fight, I’ll decide if I’ll stay at 185 or go down to 170."
Bitetti Combat takes place at the Tropical Hotel in Manaus and features the return of UFC veteran Ronys Torres (27-5) against Gilmar Dutra Lima (23-11-1). In the main event, Erick Silva (11-2) battles Joao Luis "Andrezinho" Nogueira (16-6) for the lightweight title.