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Paulo Filho opens up: I decided to respect myself and not fight

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Paulo Filho was scheduled to fight UFC veteran Amilcar Alves recently in Sao Goncalo, Brazil, but the match-up never materialized.

Minutes before the main event, Fatality Arena officials announced that Filho had suffered a seizure that morning and the middleweight bout was canceled. After the event, Filho told MMAFighting.com his side of the story.

"I’m not an epileptic," Filho said, "I never had a seizure."

Filho, who has a history of addiction to rohypnol, has been dealing with health issues over the past few years. Once one of the best middleweight fighters on the planet, the jiu-jitsu wizard has defeated just one of his past seven opponents.

"I was a mess. I decided not to use antidepressants, so it wouldn’t kill my reflexes, but I had a terrible day at home," he said. "My house looked like a party the day of the fight, lots of people going there. Nobody respected me. It was like Paulo Filho was going to bungee jump instead of getting into a fight, get punched and kicked in the face. I couldn’t focus. My house was like hell that day.

"I didn’t want to take medication, so I had a panic attack," he continued. "I lay down in my bedroom, thinking what I would do. I just froze. I couldn’t move. And for the first time in my life, I respected myself. When things like that happened before, I kept going and fought, and it didn’t end well. People watched me fight like crap and had no idea what had happened. So I decided to respect myself this time.

"I agreed to fight because I needed the money. That’s the truth. But I was depressed, I was feeling low. I’ve been trying to find a way to get better, so I gave myself another opportunity. I’m not taking anything away from Amilcar, he’s a great athlete, and a fight is a fight, but inside my head I always think I’m going to win.

"That’s how I came to the conclusion that this fight wouldn’t be so important for me. Maybe that was important for Amilcar. Maybe. Maybe not. Honestly, and bringing myself down by saying this, it wouldn’t be important for Amilcar either. If he goes there and beats me, that means nothing. A bunch of nobodies, who haven’t fought anywhere, defeated me via decision when I wasn’t ready. That doesn’t mean shit. The thing is, I wasn’t motivated for this. I didn’t care about it. I just wanted to chill, relax with my birds, my dogs, and walk on the beach with my friends."

Filho had strong words for Mestre Branco, who he claims made money off him leading up to the Fatality Arena main event.

"I was really sad with this guy. He said harsh words to me that day," he said. "He was always nice, got me things, but always made sure he got himself a big share of everything. He got a lot of things by using my name."

"I don’t think the money I was getting paid to fight was enough, too. And by the way he reacted when I decided not to fight, I think he was getting more money than me," Filho added. "I was getting paid 7,000 reais (approximately 3,000 dollars). When I thought about it, I realized I didn’t really need the fight.

"I don’t blame anyone else but me. I made a mistake by trying to do the right thing. I had a panic attack, I couldn’t move. And (Branco) showed he didn’t care about my health at all, he just wanted to get his share of the money."

On his Facebook page, Mestre Branco admitted he tried "everything he could" to convince Filho to fight, but defended himself.

"Paulo didn’t suffer any seizure, he didn’t faint either. I was there," Branco wrote. "He had an attack, he froze, and didn’t want to fight anymore. I did everything I could to convince him (to fight), remembering him everything we’ve been through to get to that day. … He never mentioned his fight purse or any money at all. That was clear on the contract he had signed. Actually, he apologized the whole time, declining to fight."

"I have to admit that Paulo needs special treatment," he added. "With all this, I learned that you can only help those who want to be helped."

Despite deciding against fighting at Fatality Arena on Sunday night, Filho said he won’t retire. With a 23-6-3 record, 7-5-3 since leaving the WEC in 2008, the Filho wants to continue fighting. But he admits he needs to change a lot of things if he wants to get back to the winning column.

"Being Paulo Filho is not easy. Fighting is not for anyone, and get where I got, doing what I did, you have to be special. It’s not easy," he said. "I want to bring this Paulo back, this Paulo that has been asleep. I lost the love I had for this sport. It’s not fair what I’ve done to this sport and to those who care about me.

"I need the challenge. I need to get back to a good team. I have to live the life of an athlete. I left Brazilian Top Team and tried to do everything on my own, but it didn’t work. I have to have someone helping me, pushing me. I was well trained, technically and physically, but I had this crisis when I chose not to take the antidepressants."

A former WEC middleweight champion with wins over the likes of Chael Sonnen, Murilo Rua, Melvin Manhoef, Kazuo Misaki and Ryo Chonan, the Brazilian veteran guarantees his body is good to keep fighting. His mind needs help, though.

"I did several exams recently, a complete blood count, and the doctor said I’m 100 percent," Filho said. "My issue is a psychological issue. I need a good psychiatrist who can get me back to normal. I can’t stay like a roller coaster. I love strawberries, but one second later, I hate strawberries. I’m like that now. It’s hard to be an athlete with pathologies like that.

"Unfortunately, I lost more of the credibility that I had left, but I won’t give up. I can’t do this by myself. I always had someone pushing me, and that’s what I need. I don’t have a reason to stop fighting."