First we mocked him for pulling out of his WEC 33 fight against Chael Sonnen. Then it looked like he sacked up and the fight was back on. Well, now it’s off again, and drugs are reportedly to blame for Filho’s mysterious depression and personal issues. From WEC.tv:
WEC Middleweight Champion Paulo Filho has chosen to withdraw from his March 26th title defense against Chael Sonnen after voluntarily checking himself into an undisclosed rehabilitation center in Brazil on Thursday morning, March 13, to seek help for a substance abuse problem.
“This is horrible news, but we’re proud of him for stepping up and recognizing his problem,” said Filho’s manager, Ed Soares…“Paulo apologizes to his fans but he thanks them for their support and he promised that the next time they see him, he’ll be back at 100 percent and will be the Paulo Filho everyone expects to see.”
The WEC light heavyweight title bout between Doug Marshall and Brian Stann will now be moved into the March 26th main event slot. Any further plans regarding the card will be announced at a later date.
In a follow-up article on Sherdog, Jorge Guimaraes — also referred to as Filho’s manager — added:
“We tried our best with Filho, but it didn’t work and he’ll not fight in the WEC. He tried with all his effort to accomplish the title defense, but he realized he couldn’t do it due to chemical dependence and depression. He knew this kind of stuff does not have a link with the sport, and I’m happy he had a conscience and looked for help…The WEC staff was superb with us. They understood the situation, and Filho will return and defend his belt in June.”
Well, we wouldn’t bet on it. We’ve watched enough Celebrity Rehab to know that Filho has two choices here: focus on his recovery for a long period of time and get healthy, or go back to training and fighting around the same people and situations that allowed his drug problem to escalate in the first place. An extended rehab stay is necessary, but it could seriously get in the way of his training. Who knows if he’ll be ready three months from now, mentally or physically? We’ll update you when we know more, and we truly hope Filho can bounce back from this and eventually get on with his truly promising career.