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Paulo Filho likely released from WEC contract and will not fight in UFC ... for now

What a difference three weeks and one head-scratching performance makes.

Paulo Filho -- the last man to hold the WEC middleweight title (albeit under bizarre circumstances) -- has apparently been cut by Zuffa following his unanimous decision loss to Chael Sonnen last month and will not join the the UFC roster once the promotion dissolves its 185-pound category, according to via

Filho signed with the WEC last year with an undefeated record (14-0) and a reputation as one of the top 185 pounders in the world. The Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist was brought in to bolster the credibility of the division and help the organization grow.

Therefore, it came as no surprise that he was granted an immediate opportunity to challenge Joe Doerksen for the vacant division title in just his first fight with the promotion. Filho made a statement out of Doerksen with a first round technical knockout, sending notice to all other WEC middleweights that this division was now his.

The promotion wasted no time in getting its champion back into action with his first title defense against Sonnen at WEC 31 just four months later. Filho was a huge favorite to win the bout and nobody gave the challenger much of a chance to win.

However, Sonnen came to fight that night. He dictated the pace and controlled where the action went with his wrestling base and reach advantage. He was clearly ahead on the scorecards before the champ slipped in a fight-ending armbar late in the second round to retain his title.

Most people chalked up the poor performance by Filho to a simple case of him just having a bad night, but behind the scenes there was a lot more going on.

It was revealed shortly thereafter that Filho was in the midst of a long-term battle with depression and substance abuse. Accordingly, he clearly was not devoting himself completely to fighting and for the first time it showed up in his performance.

A rematch with Sonnen was postponed for almost a year while the promotion allowed Filho time to recover from his illnesses and return to form as one of the best in the world. Many people believed he had done just that during his time away from competing and that it would show during the fight at WEC 36.

Clearly that wasn't the case.

He came into the weigh-ins for the bout at a staggering seven pounds over the 185 pound division limit. It was obvious then -- and even more so throughout the fight -- that he was still dealing with a lot of personal demons that were preventing him from competing at the level we all knew he capable of competing at.

Filho holds career wins over Kazuo Misaki, Ninja Rua, Ryo Chonon, Yuki Kondo and plenty of other world class caliber fighters. The talent and skill set is there, but for the time being he clearly has a few screws that need some tightening.

This move by Zuffa comes as no surprise.

Two years ago Filho could have easily made the move to the UFC and been more than competitive, but as of right now, he's just not ready.

This is an important time in his life, not only as a fighter, but as a human being. Hopefully he can get the professional help he needs to get his life in order. nd then maybe we as fans will get the opportunity to see this talented fighter back in action at 100 percent ... maybe even in the UFC.

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