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Filho’s behavior puts weird spin on WEC card

When featherweight Urijah Faber surrendered his two-year grip on the World Extreme Cagefighting title Wednesday, it probably came as a shock to fans who weren’t able to watch the card on television.

But that wasn’t even close to the most bizarre happening on the card in Sunrise, Fla. That honor went to Paulo Filho, hands down.

The Brazilian’s odd behavior began back in March, when he had to postpone his rematch against Chael Sonnen. There were reports of chemical dependency and depression swirling around Filho, but word was he was ready to return to action.

That didn’t appear to be the case last Tuesday, when he weighed in seven pounds over the middleweight limit of 185. He got down to 189 an hour later, but still missed by four pounds. That meant the fight would go on, but Filho’s title wouldn’t be on the line.

Sonnen went on to defeat the previously unbeaten Filho by unanimous decision, but the real story was Filho’s behavior in the cage. He looked lost for much of the bout and never really engaged in a fight. He spent much of the first round on his back, hoping Sonnen would go to the ground with him.

In the third round, Filho began talking and continually glancing to the side as if an extra person was in the cage.

Strange is the only way to describe the actions of the fighter who had been so dominant while starting his career with 16 consecutive wins.

Sonnen expressed disappointment that his decisive victory did not earn him the title because of Filho’s failure to make weight.

In reality, winning the title would have been only a formality anyway, because the WEC is eliminating its middleweight and light heavyweight divisions after its Dec. 3 show at the Hard Rock Hotel.

Fighters under contract in those divisions will be released or move to the Ultimate Fighting Championship, which is under the same ownership.

That is not the case in the featherweight division, which will remain part of the organization, along with welterweight, lightweight and bantamweight classes.

Faber, the near-unanimous pick as the world’s best featherweight before Wednesday’s loss to Mike Brown, suffered his second loss when he was caught with a hard right hand and knocked out as he tried to jump at Brown and land a backward flying elbow.

• EARLY TESTS CLEAN — The Nevada Athletic Commission performed pre-competition drug tests on several fighters who will be in action on Saturday’s UFC card at the MGM Grand. All tests came back negative.

Among the fighters tested were main event combatants Randy Couture and Brock Lesnar. Also, Nick Catone, Amir Sadollah, Aaron Riley, Jorge Gurgel, Mark Bocek and Alvin Robinson were tested.

Contact reporter Adam Hill at ahill@reviewjournal.com or 702-224-5509.

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