The PRIDE FC talent hemorrhage continues.
Undefeated PRIDE FC welterweight (185 pounds) standout Paulo Filho is close to signing a contract with World Extreme Cagefighting (WEC), which is of course owned by Zuffa LLC — the parent company of the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) — according to Tatame.com.
Speculation swirled recently that the Brazilian Top Team (BTT) jiu-jitsu specialist was headed for the Octagon. In fact, unsubstantiated reports indicated that he was the first choice to replace the injured Martin Kampmann on the UFC 72: "Victory" card on June 16 to face former UFC middleweight champion Rich Franklin.
However, Franklin's camp allegedly spurned the offer in favor of Yushin Okami.
Here's a snip from Filho:
"I am making the deal with the WEC organization. I will close three or four bouts with the event, a parallel one of the UFC. I am pretty glad."
Filho was on the verge of becoming the PRIDE FC Welterweight Grand Prix champion in November 2006, submitting eventual tournament winner Kazuo Misaki late in round one.
However, Filho had to withdraw from the final match against Denis Kang because of a knee injury.
This is a curious move on the part of Zuffa — Filho is far and away one of the best 185 pound fighters in the sport.
Perhaps the goal is for him to get some wins, exposure and cage experience on American soil before he steps inside the Octagon.
If that's the case it should not take long at all ... he's that good.