Throughout 2020, fight fans didn’t know if they’d see Paul Felder in the UFC outside of the commentator’s booth. Back in February after he lost to Dan Hooker, Felder hinted that he would probably retire from the sport.
However, Felder never fully closed the door. Less than a week before UFC Vegas 14, one of the headliners in the lightweight division fell out. The UFC was forced to scramble for a last minute opponent for Rafael Dos Anjos.
RDA was making his lightweight return after spending a few years in the welterweight division. The UFC wanted a ranked opponent for his return and Felder was on tap to commentate the fights.
The UFC called upon Felder, and the Irish Dragon took the fight on five days notice. He didn’t ask for a catchweight and he also said he would be willing to go the full 25 minutes despite not having any camp.
The lack of MMA training hurt Felder in the grappling during the fight. RDA’s takedowns and ground control ended up giving him the win, but Felder was incredibly impressive. He looked very sharp and fast on his feet.
Felder took a bunch of good shots of his own, but he busted RDA up on the feet. He outstruck the former UFC champion despite having no camp. After the fight, Felder addressed the fans letting them know that he wasn’t going anywhere.
What’s next after UFC Vegas 14?
“I have not stepped foot into an MMA gym in four months. But I can tell you guys with certainty, I’m not going anywhere right now. I lost my passion for this sport pretty bad, but I’m not done,” Felder told Michael Bisping in his post-fight interview.
Felder saved the day for the UFC and it looks like he found his passion for the sport all in one evening. That is great news for the promotion as Felder is one of the more exciting fighters in the lightweight division.
So the big question is, what’s next for Paul Felder? I think the UFC doesn’t have to look too far around the rankings to find some good potential matchups. I think the promotion could book him against either Diego Ferreira or Al Iaquinta.
Personally, I lean a little towards booking him against Al Iaquinta. That would be a very fun matchup for the fans and both men are coming off of back-to-back losses. However, both are still inside the UFC‘s top ten at lightweight.
Time will tell what the promotion does next with Felder, but it’s nice to know that we will be seeing the Irish Dragon back inside the octagon.