Paulo Filho was unable to submit his opponent, Gregory Bouchelaghem, in the June 4th Opening Round of the PRIDE Welterweight Grand Prix 2006 at Saitama Super Arena, despite being considered one of the likely tournament winners.

What was the reason for his less-than-best performance? Additionally, will Filho be able to win the Championship title as the only jujitsu fighter remaining in the Welterweight Grand Prix?




Pride Fighting Championships: You are always wearing headphones and listening to music, including during your fight entrances. What kind of music do you listen to?
Paulo Filho: Brazilian pop music, basically. Actually, I love music and I motivate myself before my fights by listening to my favorite songs. The type of music I listen to depends on the situation. When I'm nervous, I listen to up-tempo songs and when I want to relax, I listen to slow songs. Incidentally, I was listening to an up-tempo song for my fight against Bouchelaghem in the Opening Round.
Pride: First I would like for you to think back on the Opening Round. You were able to continually gain advantageous positions on Gregory Bouchelaghem but you weren't able to submit him. Why was that?
Filho: I hate making excuses. I wasn't able to submit him because Bouchelaghem was strong and he was very good at defense, so I want to win my Second Round fight by submission.
Pride: You have a black belt in jujitsu and Bouchelaghem has a purple belt. I thought there must have been some special reason that you weren't able to submit him since there must be quite a difference between your grappling abilities. Pressure because it was the Grand Prix for example.
Filho: It wasn't because of the Grand Prix. there were many things happening and I was a little nervous.
Pride: Can you tell us what those "many things" were?
Filho: Murilo (Bustamante) had a fight before mine and he lost, right? Murilo and I had swore that we would both fight each other in the Final Round and mentally, Murilo's loss was a shock. I had also gotten sick in Brazil before the fight.
Pride: Sick? Did that affect your training and the fight?
Filho: There was something going around Brazil and I started vomiting around May 10th and developed a fever. I did my best and continued to train but I just kept getting worse, so I wasn't able to train for nearly three weeks before the fight. After the fight with Ninja, though, I was confirmed to fight in the Grand Prix and I continued to train without resting. I think I was able to maintain the minimum conditioning needed because of that. The Opening Round fight was a tough fight, though.
Pride: So, that was why you weren't feeling well. Winning under those circumstances must have been motivating for you, though, right?
Filho: I just happy that I was able to win. The feeling is always the same when you win, no matter what fight it is. When the Opening Round fight was over, I felt the level of the event was higher (than before). My opponent, Bouchelaghem, was strong and all of the fighters in PRIDE were strong, even the ones that weren't famous. Everyone is dangerous, no matter who you fight.
Pride: Did the results of any of the fights in the Opening Round surprise you?
Filho: First was Murilo's loss. I expected Misaki to win in his fight against Phil Baroni but I expected the fight to develop in a much different way, so that surprised me. I expected Kang to win his fight against Ninja.
Pride: At the post Opening Round press conference, you said that you want to fight Japanese fighters. You've destroyed top Japanese fighters one after the other. Are Japanese fighters easy for you to fight?
Filho: When I said I want to fight Japanese fighters, I was talking about probabilities. I've fought Suloev before and I won with an arm-bar. Kang is in American Top Team and Ricardo Liborio, the ATT leader, and I talked about that if Kang and I have to fight each other, it will probably be in the Final Round. I thought that because of that, the chances of probability of fighting a Japanese fighter would inevitably be high. I don't think Japanese are easy opponents to fight, though. I think they are actually difficult to fight. They always give great performances.
Pride: Have you always thought that way about Japanese fighters?
Filho: I thought so when I saw the Opening Round fights. Misaki has strong punches and he's physically strong, too. Gono put on a good performance against a much bigger Hector and compared to before, he surprised me how much he has grown. Chonan, who I will fight in the Second Round, is extremely tough and strong. I think those Japanese fighters are just as tough as any of the foreign fighters.
Pride: Who do you think is the strongest among those three?
Filho: That's a difficult question. (laughing). All three are dangerous fighters. I think that the strength of Japanese fighters' hearts is worth respect.
Pride: Many of the fighters remaining in the Second Round are so-called strikers, using strikes as their main weapon. The only grappling specialist left is you. As a jujitsu fighter, what do you think about this situation?
Filho: I think that is one way to look at it but I think all of the remaining fighters are well balanced between striking and grappling. For example, Henderson is originally a wrestler but Mousasi can also wrestle. I have a good balance between standing and the ground, and I think having a jujitsu background will be a strength for me.
Pride: Recently, MMA has put increasing emphasis on striking and the breaks on the ground are coming earlier and earlier. What do you think is necessary for you, as a jujitsu fighter, to win under those circumstances?
Filho: It's true that recently, many fighters have learned jujitsu techniques and that has affected PRIDE's rules. Jujitsu is something that takes some time to apply. It's like chess. You can't apply jujitsu techniques easily. It's difficult quickly win with a submission. Grappling and the rules are sometimes difficult for the fans to understand. So, I think that we have to keep the good parts of jujitsu but also adapt to the new rules. I'm always trying to go for a joint-lock once the fight goes to the ground and get a submission at an early stage, rather than attacking slowly.