Filho flailing again?

February, 23, 2010
2/23/10
3:15
PM ET
By Jake Rossen/Sherdog.com
ESPN.com
Archive

FilhoMarcelo Alonso/Sherdog.comPaulo Filho's once-promising career may be at risk of being derailed.

It wasn't that long ago that Paulo Filho was considered one of the most durable and difficult fighters at 185 pounds. A smothering style and capable defense made him hard to damage: In a 10-year career, he has lost only once, a decision dropped to Chael Sonnen in the WEC following reported issues with substance abuse.

Filho followed up that 2008 defeat with three consecutive wins, but there are concerns that past problems have resurfaced in light of news that Filho dropped out, then signed back on, to fight Yuki Sasaki in a Brazilian event on Thursday.

Filho was alleged to have had serious dependency issues with painkillers and/or sleeping pills, addictions that take considerable time and effort to beat. Erratic behavior during the fall -- he pulled himself out of a fight in Dream -- suggest he still may have personal issues to resolve.

Filho, like Mark Kerr before him, might serve as a warning beacon for other athletes who push their bodies so strenuously that the only answer to climbing out of bed in the morning is using chemical assistance. Perhaps Filho's personality would have led him in this direction if not for fighting; perhaps fighting left him with few other options. Either way, his situation points to a serious need for promoters and athletic commissions to address the mental health of fighters as seriously as they scrutinize their physical statuses. It's not as important -- it's more important.

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