Paulão: tips for Anderson and the importance of the gi

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Anderson and Paulão. Photo: Carlos Ozório

Anderson Silva’s next opponent in the UFC will be Chael Sonnen. At stake, once again, will be the promotion’s middleweight belt. Someone who has faced Sonnen on two occasions is Paulo Filho,who is  scheduled to fight Hector Lombard at Bellator this coming 13th. Paulo had a chat with and gave some pointers for the “Spider”, as well as explaining why not to put the gi aside when training for MMA.

Check it out:

You’ve faced Sonnen on two occasions. What do you suggest Anderson do?

I recommend he train lots of knees and, should he end up on bottom, to watch out for the elbows. Sonnen throws himself into the guard. He won’t want to stand and, when he shoots for the leg, it’s a solid shoot. I believe that, if he doesn’t eat a knee when he shoots, he’ll manage to get the takedown at some point. So I feel it’s all about training knees and keeping the right distance. If he gets taken down, a good one to do is to throw an elbow when Sonnen jumps in. He can stay there pretty much just defending, and it’ll be all him. That’s one of the paths. What he can’t do is piddle around because the guy’s really good with his takedowns and brings on the punishment.

Sonnen can beat anyone” Paulão

But do you feel Sonnen really has what it takes to beat Anderson?

It’s a tough fight. I’ll root for Anderson till death, if just because Sonnen wasn’t very respectful to me. I was a gentleman to him. I accepted a rematch without needing to. He yelled during the first fight and, if the ref hadn’t stopped it, I’d have broken his arm. After that I lost the rematch and gave him the belt, even though it didn’t count for the title. Even so, he took 25% of my purse because I didn’t make weight. But I lost because of my own failings, and knew that belt wasn’t mine anymore. I gave it to him and he’s still talking smack to this day. So I’m for Anderson all the way. I always root for Brazilians, even if we have our differences. But Sonnen is really tough and dangerous. He can beat anybody.

How is your training for Lombard at Bellator going?

I was weighing 102 kg and now I’m at 93. I’ve mixed up my training a good deal. Distak has been training me most days and three times a week I do Jiu-Jitsu in the gi and physical conditioning, a workout specifically for the fight and my style of fighting. I do a lot of isometrics, lower back work and neck work, muscle groups I use a lot. Julio Muniz has helped me a great deal with that and I do Jiu-Jitsu with Osvaldo Alvez and at Carlson Gracie Academy. Now Distak works with me out in Recreio, after I’ve trained with all those other guys, and he just about kills me. I’m even a bit weak now from the diet, but that’s how it goes. Come fight time I’ll be fine. That’s what I’ve been doing, mixing it up.

Paulão with Osvaldo Alves. Photo: Carlos Ozório

You never stop training Jiu-Jitsu in the gi, even with a fight coming up, unlike most MMA fighters. Why is that?

For example, let’s talk about the days when there was a rivalry between Jiu-Jitsu and luta livre. Why did the Jiu-Jitsu guys always have an advantage? The gi lets you use your reason a lot more. Without it there is less variety in the moves and you slip a lot. The gi slows you down and we end up getting overloaded. It’s like the sprinter who trains with a 20 kg weight on him and when he takes it off he soars. With the gi we have millions of positions and variations, so we have to use our heads more. There are several angles for performing an armbar, several chokes, sweeps, passes… That gives you more options and, when in the scramble, it puts a few steps ahead of guys who only train grappling. That’s my theory.

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