Paul Felder announces retirement at UFC Vegas 27

One of the more exciting fighters in the UFC‘s lightweight division is hanging it up. On tonight’s broadcast, top ten lightweight contender Paul Felder (17-6) announced that he was officially retiring.

Felder last fought at UFC Vegas 14 when he stepped in on short-notice to face Raphael Dos Anjos. Felder was competitive with the former UFC lightweight champion while having no training camp.

That fight back in November seemed to relight the fire in Felder. The Irish Dragon had spent most of 2020 leaning towards retirement. However, he declared after UFC Vegas 14 that he wanted to continue.

Since then, months have gone by and Felder started to reconsider. On the UFC Vegas 27 broadcast, Felder said that he’s really enjoyed his time off with his family and he’s been finding it harder and harder to get back in the gym.

Felder has also said in the past that if he didn’t see himself challenging for the title anytime soon, he’d likely hang it up. Well, Felder is ranked ninth in the UFC‘s lightweight rankings and would likely have had to string together three or four wins before getting a title shot.

UFC’s Irish Dragon

It’s been a great career and a heck of a run in the octagon for Felder. Felder made his UFC debut back in 2015 and entered the octagon at 9-0. The Irish Dragon has been in there with some of the best since making his debut with the promotion.

Overall, Felder has gone 8-6 during his UFC run. During that run, Felder has been in there with the likes of RDA, Edson Barboza, and Dan Hooker. The highlight of Felder’s UFC career is his TKO victory over current lightweight champion Charles Oliveira.

I’m sad to hear the news tonight, but I completely get where Felder is coming from. It’s unfortunate we won’t see the Irish Dragon in the octagon anymore, but we will get to hear Felder doing some UFC play-by-play for years to come.

Dan Hooker likes RDA for his UFC return

Earlier this year at UFC 257, Dan Hooker (20-10) had a massive opportunity on the sport’s biggest stage. In the co-main event on a card headlined by the rematch between Conor McGregor and Dustin Poirier, Hooker was tasked with welcoming Michael Chandler to the UFC.

Hooker entered the contest as a betting favorite. Entering UFC 257, the only two men to have defeated Hooker at lightweight were Edson Barboza and Dustin Poirier. The fight with Poirier was an absolute war and Hooker won the first two rounds of that fight.

If Hooker was able to get the win over Chandler, it would have put him right in the title conversation. However, UFC 257 ended with the worst case scenario for Dan Hooker. Chandler landed a massive left in the first round and finished The Hangman.

Since then, Hooker has been laying low just getting back into training. Now that it’s been a few months, Hooker is getting that itch to fight. While he hasn’t been offered a fight by the UFC yet, Hooker told Submission Radio that he has an opponent in mind.

Former UFC champ

“When it comes to fights that make sense, I like the RDA fight. Former champ. I respect his skillset and I respect the way he carries himself. I think that’s a fight that makes sense,” Hooker told Submission Radio.

In reality, this is a perfect matchup for the UFC. Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) made his lightweight return last November. The former UFC lightweight champion returned to the division after spending the last few years at welterweight.

RDA won a decision over Paul Felder (17-6) in his return. Currently, Dos Anjos is ranked seventh and Hooker is ranked eighth in the lightweight division. Given their styles and their spot in the rankings, this would be a fantastic matchup for the UFC.

Another potential matchup would be a rematch with Paul Felder. Hooker and Felder had a war in early 2020 that ended with a split decision win for Hooker. I don’t think any fan would be opposed to the two of them running it back.

Justin Gaethje is sick of hearing that Charles Oliveira deserves a UFC title shot

Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) is one of the best lightweights in the UFC. There is no questioning his talent or questioning how impressive he’s been as of late. However, Oliveira is not gaining any fans with his recent stance on what’s next for him.

Just today, Oliveira shot down a potential fight with Nate Diaz. Over the last month, Oliveira has told the UFC that he would not face Nate Diaz (20-12), Justin Gaethje (22-3), or Michael Chandler (22-5). Instead, he’s demanded that he fights for the title next.

As of now, the UFC lightweight title is in limbo. Khabib Nurmagomedov (29-0) is the undisputed lightweight champion, however, he’s maintained that he’s been retired for the last couple of months. Yet, Dana White is still holding onto hope that he changes his mind.

Dustin Poirier (27-6, 1 NC) proved last month at UFC 257 that he deserves to fight for the title next after he knocked out Conor McGregor (22-5). Oliveira has been vocal that he only wants to fight Poirier, but it has to be for the title.

This hasn’t sat well with former interim lightweight champion, Justin Gaethje. Gaethje took to Twitter tonight to voice his frustrations about Oliveira’s stance. Gaethje made it quite clear by stating, “What the f*ck has this dude done to get a shot at the title?”

UFC’s lightweight situation

Gaethje made it clear tonight that he’s sick of Oliveira claiming that he deserves anything. In all honesty, Gaethje does have a point that I also raised in my article about why Oliveira won’t get the next shot at the UFC lightweight title. 

Yes, Oliveira has won eight fights in a row. That alone is incredibly impressive. However, when you really dive into the winning streak, it’s not all that impressive. Yes, Oliveira’s win over Tony Ferguson (25-5) was incredibly impressive.

However, only one other fighter on that list of eight ranks inside the top fifteen. In Oliveira’s last nine fights, he’s fought two guys who are currently ranked tenth or higher in the division. He’s 1-1 in those two matchups with the loss coming against Paul Felder.

Oliveira is playing a very risky game with the UFC. The promotion is giving him opportunities to make himself more of a household name and legitimizing his top contender status. However, he keeps turning things down because he claims he has nothing to prove. Dangerous tightrope he’s walking with this train of thought.

UFC Match Maker: Tony Ferguson – Paul Felder

Tony Ferguson, UFC

This past Saturday at UFC 256, Tony Ferguson (25-5) was looking to bounce back after his loss to Justin Gaethje earlier this year. El Cucuy was taking on Charles Oliveira (30-8, 1 NC) who had been surging heading into UFC 256 with seven straight wins.

I thought Ferguson would get back on track, but it proved to be another rough night for the former UFC interim lightweight champion. Oliveira completely dominated Ferguson and almost broke his arm in the first round.

Ferguson’s loss to Justin Gaethje was hard, but he had his moments in that fight. He was able to drop Justin Gaethje in the second round. However, Ferguson had no real bright spots at UFC 256. It was an extremely one-sided fight.

El Cucuy has now lost two straight while being dominated for most of those two fights. So what is next for Ferguson? Tony Ferguson is still one of the best in the world and his ranking shows that as he’s ranked fourth in the lightweight division.

The two men he’s lost to are two of the best in the world. The UFC is going to give Ferguson a high quality opponent in his next fight. I think I have an idea that works for Ferguson and the promotion.

UFC: Ferguson – Felder

I think that the UFC should pair Tony Ferguson up with Paul Felder (17-6). Like Ferguson, The Irish Dragon is coming off of two straight losses to guys inside the top seven at lightweight.

After Felder lost to Dan Hooker earlier this year, it looked like he wouldn’t fight again. However, he stepped in last minute at UFC Vegas 14 and he found the love for fighting again. He went five hard rounds with Rafael Dos Anjos.

Both Felder and Ferguson are fan favorites. Both are currently ranked inside the UFC‘s top seven and they both need a fight. This would be a tremendous matchup that would be fun, but it would also make sense for the division.

UFC Matchmaker: Paul Felder – Al Iaquinta

A few weeks ago, Paul Felder (17-6) became the hero at UFC Vegas 14. Islam Makhachev was supposed to headline that card against Rafael Dos Anjos. However, due to staff infection, he had to pull out of UFC Vegas 14.

The card was left without one half of the main event six days before the event. The UFC searched for a replacement and found it at the commentary table. Felder was scheduled to call the action, but decided he would step up for the promotion.

Felder hadn’t fought since February and hadn’t stepped into an MMA gym in months. Admittedly, Felder said that he had somewhat lost the passion for competing. However, he was in shape due to training for a triathlon so he decided to give it a go.

With nothing to lose and a lot to gain, Felder stepped into the main event at UFC Vegas 14. He did come up short against RDA, however, he found that fire to compete again. He said he wouldn’t be going anywhere anytime soon. 

Just a few days ago, Felder tweeted out that he was ready to go. Now that Felder is ready to jump back in the cage, who should the UFC pair him against. I think the best choice is right there in the top ten with Felder.

Potential UFC Lightweight Matchup

I think the perfect opponent for Felder would be Raging Al Iaquinta (14-6-1). Iaquinta is currently the tenth ranked lightweight in the UFC and he’s in a very similar position as The Irish Dragon.

Both men are currently on two-fight losing streaks. However, they are still in the top ten and they deserve a quality matchup in their next fight. Both of these guys love to trade and it would make for a very exciting fight.

When looking at the division, this fight just jumps out at me. Again, they are both in a very similar spot and you know that they’d put on a show for UFC fans. Neither have an opponent at the moment, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see the promotion try to make this happen.

What’s next for Rafael Dos Anjos after UFC Vegas 14?

A lot of praise is being thrown at Paul Felder (17-6) after UFC Vegas 14. The Irish Dragon stepped up on short notice to take on Rafael Dos Anjos (30-13) to save the main event from being scrapped.

While Felder should get a ton of praise, the former UFC lightweight champion should also get some praise. It’s a dangerous thing to take a fight on five days’ notice against an opponent who’s completely different from the opponent you were fighting.

Islam Makhachev is known for his great wrestling. Dos Anjos was prepping for a UFC main event where he’d have to be grappling the majority of the time. Instead, he had to switch to prepare for an elite striker like Paul Felder.

It was a gamble, but it paid off. The former UFC champion used his wrestling and grappling to get the better of Felder over the course of five rounds. In doing so, Dos Anjos made a successful return to the lightweight division.

After struggling with weight cuts a few years ago, RDA decided to move up to welterweight. After initial success, Dos Anjos struggled with the bigger guys at the top of the division. Dos Anjos went 1-4 in his last five which prompted the move back down to lightweight.

What’s next after UFC Vegas 14?

Saturday night was a big first step for the former UFC champion. It wasn’t just about getting the win, but it was about making the weight and not having it impact his cardio. RDA looked great over the course of a grueling five round war.

After the win, Dos Anjos called for a fight with Conor McGregor since they were the only two previous undisputed lightweight champions in the division. McGregor responded saying he was in after he defeats Dustin Poirier.

However, I don’t think RDA is going to go right to the top just yet. I think the UFC will try to give him another matchup against a top contender before getting someone like Conor McGregor.

If I was playing match maker, I think a great fight would be RDA and Charles Oliveira (29-8, 1 NC). Oliveira is currently ranked sixth in the UFC‘s lightweight division and he’s won seven in a row. The winner of that fight would vault right to the top of the lightweight division.

Paul Felder not going anywhere after UFC Vegas 14

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.

Rafael Dos Anjos wins grueling fight against Paul Felder at UFC Vegas 14

Tonight the UFC returned for their 14th fight night inside the APEX. In the main event of the evening, there was a lightweight matchup between former champion, Rafael Dos Anjos (29-13), and The Irish Dragon, Paul Felder (17-5).

It’s been a wild ride on how we got to this UFC main event. Last week at this time, fight fans thought they were going to see RDA take on Islam Makhachev. However, staff infection pulled Makhachev out of the anticipated main event.

The UFC looked around for a replacement and found a quality one at the commentators booth. Paul Felder was expected to be the color commentator for tonight’s fights. Instead, the seventh ranked lightweight in the UFC found himself in the main event.

Opening Rounds

As the fight underway, Felder looked very sharp in the striking. Felder was doing a good job of landing kicks up the middle and straight shots. RDA had his moments as well, but Felder was getting the better of the exchanges.

Two minutes into the first round, Dos Anjos shot in and landed his first takedown. Felder did a good job of working his way back to the fence and getting back up. Once back on their feet, RDA was doing much better popping Felder with straight lefts.

Competitive first round, but it should go to RDA. As the second round of the UFC Vegas 14 main event got underway, RDA continued to pop Felder with shots up the middle. A minute into the round and Felder started opening up with powerful kicks.

Just as Felder started to land, Dos Anjos shot in for a takedown. However, Felder did a good job of defending. Once they separated, both men started trading big shots. RDA then shot in and landed a takedown with two minutes left in the round.

Middle Rounds

The former UFC champion was able to control Felder the rest of the round to take a 2-0 lead. As the third round got underway, Felder continued to look for low kicks. The opening 30 seconds were all Felder which caused RDA to shoot for a takedown.

Felder defended extremely well and kept the fight standing. As soon as RDA got close, Felder initiated the clinch and pushed Dos Anjos against the fence. However, RDA used it to shoot in for a takedown which he landed.

RDA came close to getting Felder’s back, but Felder forced a scramble to get the fight back to the feet. After a brief exchange, Dos Anjos shot in for another takedown. Dos Anjos was able to slam Felder down to the ground and sealed the third round for him.

Felder opened the fourth strong knowing he needed to finish the former UFC champion. RDA started landing decent shots, but he was continuing to look for the takedown. However, Felder was doing a good job of holding the center.

Felder was landing some good shots, but a RDA shot found Felder once again against the fence. Felder did a good job of staying on his feet and he even reversed the position. However, he wasn’t able to separate until there was about a minute left in the round.

In the final minute, Felder really started to open up his striking. Just as Felder was landing some good shots, he shot for a takedown and landed. RDA got back up, but it was a much better round for the Irish Dragon.

RDA’s successful return at UFC Vegas 14

As the final round of the UFC Vegas 14 main event got underway, Felder knew that it was all or nothing. Felder opened with a beautiful 1-2, but RDA countered with a good body kick.

Dos Anjos shot in for a takedown, but Felder defended well. However, after a brief separation, RDA shot in and landed the takedown. Dos Anjos was looking for the submission when he was on top in the final round.

However, Felder was doing a decent job of defending. Despite that, Dos Anjos was doing a good job of holding him down. With a minute left in the fight, Felder was able to work his way back up to his feet.

However, the former UFC champion was able to get him right back down. Felder displayed an incredible amount of heart, but RDA was too efficient and strong throughout all five rounds.

Rafael Dos Anjos defeats Paul Felder by Split Decision (50-45, 50-45, 47-48)

UFC Vegas 14 Preview: Paul Felder – Rafael Dos Anjos

It’s been a crazy leadup to UFC Vegas 14 which goes down tomorrow night. Initially, Rafael Dos Anjos (29-13) was set to take on rising prospect, Islam Makhachev, in the main event tomorrow night.

However, staff infection pulled Makhachev out of the fight. The UFC searched for a replacement and landed on one who was set to be the color commentator tomorrow night. That man is the Irish Dragon, Paul Felder (17-5).

Felder will enter the octagon tomorrow night for the first time since his split decision loss to Dan Hooker in February. He’s currently ranked 7th in the UFC‘s lightweight division. However, he’s coming into this fight with virtually no camp.

Felder had been training for a triathlon before accepting the fight. His weight was manageable, and he felt that he was in good enough cardio shape to accept the fight which is how he ended up headlining the card tomorrow night.

He gets the chance now to face a former UFC champion in Rafael Dos Anjos. RDA comes into this fight just 1-4 in his last five fights. He’s dropping back down to lightweight after he spent the last three years at welterweight.

RDA’s journey at welterweight started out great with three straight victories. However, then he ran into the elites of the division like Colby Covington, Kamaru Usman, and Leon Edwards. Now, RDA is returning to the division that made him a UFC champion.

UFC Vegas 14 Prediction

This is such a tough matchup to pick. Given all the circumstances, one would think that the former UFC lightweight champion has the big advantage. It’s a five round main event, and RDA has been preparing for that.

Meanwhile, Felder was preparing to commentate just a week ago. However, Felder does have the skillset to really make this fight interesting. RDA does really well when he’s the guy who puts on the striking pressure.

He does extremely well when he moves forward, but he struggles off of his back foot. Felder is the kind of guy who’s going to come right out and put pressure on RDA. He does a fantastic job of checking leg kicks which could be key in this matchup.

On a full camp, I would really lean towards Felder over the former UFC champion. However, I just don’t know how sharp we are going to see Felder with no camp. I know he’s been training and he’s been hitting pads.

However, that doesn’t translate to live MMA training. You have to respect Felder for stepping up for the UFC. There aren’t many that would do it. However, with a full camp and seemingly extremely motivated, I’m leaning slightly towards RDA to squeak this one out. But, it will be close.

Prediction: Rafael Dos Anjos by Split Decision

Paul Felder’s journey from commentator to headliner at UFC Vegas 14

This Saturday night at UFC Vegas 14, fight fans will see an incredible lightweight matchup in the main event. Although, it is not the lightweight matchup that we thought we were going to see on Saturday night.

Originally, former UFC lightweight champion, Rafael Dos Anjos (29-13), was set to take on Islam Makhachev (18-1). This was supposed to be a big test for the budding UFC star in Makhachev. However, a staff infection caused him to pull out of the fight on Sunday.

Dos Anjos was left without an opponent. He called out Michael Chandler, however, the promotion has other plans for him. The UFC started sending out feelers to see who could and would step in on short notice and fight RDA in the main event.

Turns out, they didn’t have to look very far. They had to just look at the expected commentators for UFC Vegas 14. When they did, they found the seventh ranked contender in the lightweight division, The Irish Dragon Paul Felder (17-5).

Felder had been training for a triathlon so he is in great shape when it comes to his conditioning. Because of his training, his weight is also lower than it normally would be when he’s not in a fight camp. So, Felder decided it was the perfect opportunity to jump in and save the day.

UFC Vegas 14’s Hero

Felder appeared on Ariel Helwani’s MMA show where he talked about the decision to step up. “I thought about it. I was like, ‘Man you’re still 36, you’re young, you’re in shape. Save the day, let’s go get paid, let’s have some fun. You’re fighting a legend.’ What do I have to lose?” Felder said to Helwani.

After Felder’s last UFC contest back in February, we weren’t sure if we’d see The Irish Dragon again. Felder was in a war with Dan Hooker and lost a split decision. Since then, Felder has been a regular in the booth calling UFC action.

However, it never appeared that Felder was completely out of the game. It just looked like he was waiting for the right opportunity. Well, it turns out that the right opportunity is this Saturday. If he wins, Felder is right back in the conversation to fight a big name at lightweight.