Paulo Filho

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Paulo Filho
BornPaulo Fernando de Souza Leite Filho
(1978-05-24) May 24, 1978 (age 41)
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Other namesPaulão, Ely
ResidenceNiterói, Brazil
Height5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight185 lb (84 kg; 13.2 st)
Light Heavyweight
Reach70 in (180 cm)
Fighting out ofRio de Janeiro, Brazil
TeamBrazilian Top Team
RankBlack belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu
Black belt in Judo
Years active2000–2014
Mixed martial arts record
By knockout3
By submission10
By decision10
By decision6
Other information
Mixed martial arts record from Sherdog
Paulo Filho
Medal record
Representing  Brazil
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu
World Championships
Gold medal – first place 1997 Rio de Janeiro      -94kg
Silver medal – second place 1998 Rio de Janeiro      -94kg
Silver medal – second place 1999 Rio de Janeiro      -94kg

Paulo Fernando de Souza Leite Filho, better known as simply Paulo Filho (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈpawlu ˈfiʎu]; born May 24, 1978), is a retired Brazilian mixed martial artist who last competed in the Middleweight division. A professional competitor from 2000 until 2014, Filho was the last WEC Middleweight Champion, and also competed in PRIDE, DREAM, Pancrase, DEEP, Impact FC, and the World Series of Fighting.[1]


Filho was born in Governador Island to a Jewish-Brazilian dad and a Pernanbuco native mom, in Rio de Janeiro, he is the only child and was raised in Cocota until he and his family moved to Zona Sul when Filho was eight years old. It was soon after moving to Copacabana in the Zona Sul area of Rio de Janeiro when Filho began training in Brazilian jiu-jitsu at the Carlson Gracie academy, and then also began training in judo, and later mixed martial arts.[2] He did extremely well in judo competitions and also in jiu-jitsu competitions becoming one of Carlson Gracie protege and he received his Black Belt in Jiu-Jitsu from Carlson Gracie himself when he was 20 years old. Filho has stated in several interviews that his career's goal have always been to defend Jiu-Jitsu and specially the Gracie Family as a whole. He has stated that "It is because of this family that I have everything in my life and for that I am forever grateful" He is well respected in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu community not just from fans but from high level competitors that have trained with him and consider him to be one of the best in the world. Filho is also a Pitbull lover and has a Pitbull tattoo in his stomach.

Mixed martial arts career[edit]

PRIDE Fighting Championships[edit]

During his stint in PRIDE, Filho was the only undefeated entrant in the 2006 PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix, but he did not win the tournament as an injury kept him from the tournament finals. In the semi-finals of the tournament on PRIDE Bushido 13, November 5, 2006, Filho defeated Kazuo Misaki by armbar. Unfortunately, Filho suffered a ruptured membrane in his knee during the fight, forcing him to withdraw from the Grand Prix finals match against Denis Kang, who also suffered injury with a torn biceps in the semi-finals.[3] Filho was replaced by Misaki, who went on to defeat an already injured Kang and claim the Grand Prix title. Filho's most notable wins include Kazuo Misaki, Amar Suloev and Yuki Kondo, as well as Murilo Rua and Ikuhisa Minowa.

World Extreme Cagefighting[edit]

He signed with the World Extreme Cagefighting and fought for the vacant middleweight title on August 5, 2007, at WEC 29. Filho defeated Canadian jiu-jitsu fighter Joe Doerksen via TKO (strikes) at 4:07 of the first round. His first title defense occurred at WEC 31, where he was awarded a controversial win over 2-time National Wrestling Champion Chael Sonnen by armbar at 4:55 in the second round. Due to controversy stemming from the fight stoppage (Sonnen's screams of pain were taken as a verbal submission by the referee, despite his objections), Filho was scheduled to face Sonnen again at WEC 33. However, Filho pulled out of this bout because he had checked into a substance abuse rehab facility.[4] Filho faced Sonnen at WEC 36 on November 5 live on Versus. Filho missed weight for this match, however the contest went ahead as a non-title three round fight.[5][6] Sonnen dominated the fight and took a unanimous decision victory. Throughout the fight Filho seemed disturbed, disoriented, and confused and his team has associated the episode with his extreme weigh cut.[7] After the WEC's middleweight division was absorbed into the Ultimate Fighting Championship in December 2008, Filho became a free agent and decided to take time off as he felt he lost the love for fighting.


Filho made his DREAM debut on July 20, 2009, when he took on light heavyweight Melvin Manhoef at Dream 10 in Saitama, Japan. Filho showed great perseverance and a good chin in the fight, weathering an onslaught of strikes from the dangerous Manhoef before executing a powerful takedown that immediately put him in half guard, from which he then swiftly transitioned into a full mount whilst at the same time trapping Melvin's left arm; he quickly secured an armbar to win the bout in the first round.

Filho was scheduled to face Yoon Dong-Sik on October 25, 2009, at Dream 12,[8] but failed to show up and was replaced on the card.[9]

Bitetti Combat[edit]

Filho made his debut in one of Brazil's top promotions, Bitetti Combat, on September 12, 2009, at Bitetti Combat's 4th event against Argentinian Alex Schoenauer. Filho controlled throughout the whole fight and pulled off a unanimous decision. He then fought Tatsuhiko Nishizaka on December 12, 2009, at Bitetti Combat 5. He easily took the fight to the ground, controlled and secured a Kimura in the very first round.

He was scheduled to fight Yuki Sasaki in the main event at Bitetti Combat 6 on February 25, 2010, but it was announced on February 22 that he had withdrawn from the bout due to "personal problems". Later that day, it was confirmed that Filho would in fact be fighting Sasaki. Filho then failed to show for the event's weigh-in, forcing a last minute cancellation of his bout with Sasaki.[10]

Bellator Fighting Championships[edit]

Filho was scheduled to face Bellator Fighting Championships Middleweight champion Hector Lombard in a non-title bout on May 13, 2010, at Bellator 18,[11] but Filho pulled out of the bout due to visa issues and was replaced by Jay Silva.[12]


Filho made his Heavyweight debut and defeated Chilean newcomer Daniel Villegas on June 4, 2010, via first-round submission due to strikes.[13] Filho faced Denis Kang on July 17, 2010, for the Australian-based promotion Impact Fighting Championships.[14] They fought to a draw. In what came as a surprise decision to many, Filho was invited to participate in the ADCC submission grappling championship in Nottingham, England. Filho withdrew prior to the event due to injury. Paulo fought Satoshi Ishii on September 14, 2011. The bout was ruled a draw.


On October 19, 2011 Filho made the announcement he would be retiring from Mixed Martial Arts and may or may not fight at KSW.[15] During an interview Filho stated the reason for his retirement was his long struggle with substance abuse, he regretted that he was so far from where he could have been in MMA.

Back from retirement[edit]

Filho returned from retirement to face former UFC fighter Dave Branch in the World Series of Fighting 2 event on March 23, 2013. Filho was dominated by Branch in every aspect of the fight and lost a unanimous decision. Filho fought Andre Muniz at the Bitetti Combat 19 event on February 6, 2014. He again lost via a one sided unanimous decision.[16]

Following Melvin Manhoef's knockout of Evangelista Santos at Gringo Superfight 10, Filho, who won their first outing by submission, entered the cage and challenged Manhoef to a rematch. Though Manhoef wasn't asked about the possible fight before the challenge, he later accepted, and GSF promoter Antonio Tolentino announced the rematch would take place in November 2014.[17]

Filho was expected to face Amilcar Alves at Fatality Arena 7 on September 21, 2014. However, Filho was pulled from the bout due to an apparent seizure.[18] In an interview with, Filho stated that it was personal issues that prevented him from competing.[19] Filho's trainer and personal friend Murilo Bustamante has stated that Filho has not "stepped foot at the academy pre-fight" to most of his bouts since WEC days.

Car accident[edit]

Filho fractured his acetabulum and left hand following a car accident where he crashed into another car. He has made a full recovery and spends his time now speaking with children and teaching Jiu-Jitsu in Rio de Janeiro.[20]

Championships and accomplishments[edit]

CBJJ World Championships

1999 Black Belt Pesado: 2nd Place

1998 Brown Belt Pesado: 2nd Place

1997 Purple Belt Pesado: 1st Place

CBJJ Brazilian Championships

2000 Black Belt Pesado: 2nd Place

1999 Black Belt Pesado: 2nd Place

1998 Brown Belt Pesado: 1st Place

1996 Blue Belt Pesadíssimo: 1st Place

He got his Black Belt in Judo in '96 from Clube de Regatas Flamengo. His black belt in BJJ was awarded in 1998, from Carlson Gracie.

Mixed martial arts[edit]

Submission grappling[edit]

  • Abu Dhabi Combat Club
    • 2005 ADCC Brazilian Trials Champion

Mixed martial arts record[edit]

Professional record breakdown
32 matches 23 wins 6 losses
By knockout 3 0
By submission 10 0
By decision 10 6
Draws 3
Res. Record Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Location Notes
Loss 23–6–3 Andre Muniz Decision (unanimous) Bitetti Combat 19 February 6, 2014 3 5:00 Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil For Bitetti Combat Middleweight Championship.
Draw 23–5–3 Rodney Wallace Draw Selva MMA 2 August 4, 2013 3 5:00 Rio Branco, Brazil
Loss 23–5–2 David Branch Decision (unanimous) World Series of Fighting 2 March 23, 2013 3 5:00 Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 23–4–2 Murilo Rua TKO (punches) Best of the Best: Filho vs. Ninja II September 6, 2012 1 0:47 Belem, Brazil
Draw 22–4–2 Satoshi Ishii Draw Amazon Forest Combat 1 September 14, 2011 3 5:00 Manaus, Brazil Light Heavyweight bout.
Loss 22–4–1 Norman Paraisy Decision (unanimous) X-Combat Ultra: International Grand Prix May 20, 2011 3 5:00 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Loss 22–3–1 Ronny Markes Decision (unanimous) International Fighter Championship April 29, 2011 3 5:00 Recife, Brazil Light Heavyweight bout.
Win 22–2–1 Jackson Mora Decision (split) World Fighting Combat: Pretorian March 19, 2011 3 5:00 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Win 21–2–1 Yuki Sasaki Decision (unanimous) Bitetti Combat 8 December 4, 2010 3 5:00 São Paulo, Brazil
Loss 20–2–1 Marcos Rogério de Lima Decision (unanimous) First Class Fight 5 October 23, 2010 3 5:00 São Paulo, Brazil Light Heavyweight bout.
Draw 20–1–1 Denis Kang Draw (split) Impact FC 2 July 18, 2010 3 5:00 Sydney, Australia Middleweight bout.
Win 20–1 Daniel Villegas Submission (punches) Memorial Fight Qualifying June 4, 2010 1 N/A São Paulo, Brazil Heavyweight bout. Originally scheduled as a Light Heavyweight bout, however Filho weighed in at 218 lbs.
Win 19–1 Tatsuhiko Nishizaka Submission (kimura) Bitetti Combat 5 December 12, 2009 1 3:00 Barueri, Brazil Light Heavyweight bout.
Win 18–1 Alex Schoenauer Decision (unanimous) Bitetti Combat 4 September 12, 2009 3 5:00 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Light Heavyweight bout.
Win 17–1 Melvin Manhoef Submission (armbar) DREAM 10 July 20, 2009 1 2:35 Saitama, Saitama, Japan
Loss 16–1 Chael Sonnen Decision (unanimous) WEC 36: Faber vs. Brown November 5, 2008 3 5:00 Hollywood, Florida, United States Non-title bout, Filho failed to make weight.
Win 16–0 Chael Sonnen Submission (armbar) WEC 31 December 12, 2007 2 4:55 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Defended the WEC Middleweight Championship.
Win 15–0 Joe Doerksen TKO (punches) WEC 29 August 5, 2007 1 4:07 Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Won the WEC Middleweight Championship.
Win 14–0 Kazuo Misaki Submission (armbar) PRIDE Bushido 13 November 5, 2006 1 9:43 Yokohama, Japan PRIDE 2006 Welterweight Grand Prix Semifinal.
Win 13–0 Ryo Chonan Submission (armbar) PRIDE Bushido 12 August 26, 2006 1 2:30 Nagoya, Japan PRIDE 2006 Welterweight Grand Prix Quarterfinal.
Win 12–0 Gregory Bouchelaghem Decision (unanimous) PRIDE Bushido 11 June 4, 2006 2 5:00 Saitama, Japan PRIDE 2006 Welterweight Grand Prix First Round.
Win 11–0 Murilo Rua Decision (unanimous) PRIDE Bushido 10 April 2, 2006 2 5:00 Tokyo, Japan
Win 10–0 Ryuta Sakurai Submission (armbar) PRIDE Bushido 9 September 25, 2005 1 3:49 Tokyo, Japan
Win 9–0 Amar Suloev Submission (armbar) PRIDE Bushido 6 April 3, 2005 1 4:22 Yokohama, Japan Light Heavyweight bout.
Win 8–0 Akira Shoji Decision (split) PRIDE Bushido 4 July 19, 2004 2 5:00 Nagoya, Japan
Win 7–0 Daijiro Matsui Decision (unanimous) Gladiator FC: Day 2 June 27, 2004 3 5:00 Seoul, South Korea
Win 6–0 Silmar Rodrigo Decision (unanimous) Bitetti Combat Nordeste 3 April 1, 2004 3 5:00 Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil
Win 5–0 Akira Shoji Submission (armbar) PRIDE 22 September 29, 2002 1 2:48 Nagoya, Japan
Win 4–0 Yuki Kondo Decision (unanimous) DEEP: 2nd Impact August 18, 2001 3 5:00 Yokohama, Japan
Win 3–0 Ikuhisa Minowa Decision (unanimous) Pancrase: Proof 2 March 31, 2001 3 5:00 Osaka, Japan
Win 2–0 Keiichiro Yamamiya KO (punches) DEEP: 1st Impact January 8, 2001 2 0:29 Nagoya, Japan
Win 1–0 Luiz Claudio das Dores Submission (punches) Heroes: Heroes 1 July 24, 2000 2 N/A Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Submission grappling record[edit]

Result Opponent Method Event Date Round Time Notes
Win Brazil Flavio Almeida (Points) ADCC Brazilian Trials 2000 -98.9 kg Final
Win Brazil Leo Nagao (Points) ADCC Brazilian Trials 2000 -98.9 kg
Win Brazil Fernando Margarida (Points) ADCC Brazilian Trials 2000 -98.9 kg


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2006-04-12. Retrieved 2008-07-13.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ "Paulo Filho - BJJ Heroes". BJJ Heroes.
  3. ^ Filho Discusses PRIDE GP Injury and Future Plans,, November 14, 2006
  4. ^ "FILHO OUT OF WEC TITLE BOUT, INTO REHAB". Retrieved 2008-03-14.
  5. ^ "Filho Misses Weight for WEC 36 Title Bout". Sherdog.
  6. ^ "WEC".
  7. ^ "Cagewriter".
  8. ^ "Melvin Manhoef vs. Zelg Galesic and Paulo Filho vs. Yoon Dong Sik set for DREAM.12". Archived from the original on 2009-10-12. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  9. ^ "Paulo Filho Out of Dream.12". Retrieved 2009-10-23.
  10. ^ "Paulo Filho withdrawals from Bitetti Combat MMA 6". Retrieved 2010-02-25.
  11. ^ "Bellator announces Hector Lombard vs Paulo Filho non-title 'Super Fight' on May 13". Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  12. ^ "Paulo Filho out, Jay Silva in against Hector Lombard on Thursday's Bellator 18 card In 2011 Paulo Filho signed a sponsorship contract with Australia's number 1 MMA fight gear WMD fight gear. WMD fight gear founder stated that he was proud to have Paulo Filho as one of the brands sponsored fighters". Retrieved 2010-05-11.
  13. ^ "Filho wins at heavyweight". Retrieved 2010-06-07.
  14. ^ "Paulo Filho faces Denis Kang at Impact FC". Archived from the original on 2011-07-06. Retrieved 2010-05-17.
  15. ^ "Paulo Filho Says If He Fights in November It Will Be His Last". Retrieved 2011-10-19.
  16. ^ "Brazil results roundup: Paulo Filho loses at Biletti, Thiago Meller wins at XFC International". February 10, 2014.
  17. ^ "GSF 10 results: Melvin Manhoef finishes Evangelista 'Cyborg' Santos in 46 seconds". April 28, 2014.
  18. ^ Guilherme Cruz (September 21, 2014). "Former WEC champ Paulo Filho pulled from fight in Brazil after apparent seizure". Retrieved October 5, 2014.
  19. ^ "Paulo Filho opens up: I decided to respect myself and not fight". October 5, 2014.
  20. ^ "WEC Veteran Paulo Filho Injured In Car Accident | Fightful MMA". Retrieved 2017-09-26.

External links[edit]

Title last held by
Joe Riggs
3rd WEC Middleweight Champion
August 5, 2007 – December 3, 2008
WEC Middleweight division
was dissolved into the