Dubai: Paul Felder emphatically demonstrated just what it takes to be a bona-fide MMA fighter. Not only did he take the fight against Rafael dos Anjos at just five days’ notice, he took everything that the powerhouse Brazilian threw at him and gave some back through 25-minutes of total mayhem inside the UFC Octagon in Las Vegas Nevada on Saturday night.
At the end of the main event at UFC Fight Night 183, it was not Felder who had his hand raised by referee Mark Smith, but even in defeat he emerged as a fearless victor for the unforgiving sport of mixed martial arts.
For the most part of 2020, Felder has been mulling retirement following a split decision loss to Aussie Dan Hooke as he began to establish himself as a pivotal member of the UFC’s commentary team.
But when the opportunity came as the UFC looked for a replacement for indisposed Islam Makhachev, it was Felder who stepped into the breach to save the fight from being scrapped.
The American, who had been training for a triathlon and was scheduled to commentate at the same event lost 14 pounds to make the weight, which may have compromised his power to some extent.
Power was the key word as both Felder and Dos Anjos traded heavy punches and leg kicks that left the former with a bloodied face and the loss by split decision.
Michael Bisping, the former champion turned commentator, summed up the fight beautifully when he said: “I’ve got so much respect for Paul Felder, what he did, he dared to be great and he looked great, he looked sensational. But tonight belongs to Rafael dos Anjos, a successful return to the lightweight division.”
After the fight, dos Anjos (30-13 MMA, 19-11 UFC) called for a fight with McGregor, saying that it made perfect sense following the retirement of current champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.
“(With) Khabib leaving the division, I think it will leave the division wide open,” dos Anjos said. “If you look at the rankings, we have three former interim champions: Tony (Ferguson), (Justin) Gaethje and Dustin Poirier.
“The only two real champs in that division are me and Conor. We were scheduled to fight twice. If the champ leaves the division, why not (book me vs. McGregor)?”
Meanwhile Felder (17-6 MMA, 9-6 UFC) said that he felt rejuvenated following his latest excursion inside the Octagon and was willing to give it another go.
“We had a five-round battle, and I can tell you guys with certainty I am not going anywhere right now,” Felder said.
Rafael Dos Anjos def. Paul Felder via split decision (47-48, 50-45, 50-45)
Khaos Williams def. Abdul Razak Alhassan via KO (punch) — Round 1, 0:30
Ashley Yoder def. Miranda Granger via unanimous decision (30-26, 29-27, 29-27)
Sean Strickland def. Brendan Allen via TKO (punches) — Round 2, 1:32
Cory McKenna def. Kay Hansen via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Kanako Murata def. Randa Markos via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Tony Gravely def. Geraldo de Freitas via split decision (30-27, 28-29, 29-28)
Alex Morono def. Rhys McKee via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Don’Tale Mayes def. Roque Martinez via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 29-28)