After some soul searching earlier this year, Paul Felder isn’t contemplating retirement following his latest defeat.
When Islam Makhachev was forced to withdraw from the UFC Fight Night 182 headliner, “The Irish Dragon” stepped in on less than one week’s notice to square off against Rafael dos Anjos on Saturday night. Although he lost a split decision, Felder exited the bout in a totally different mindset than he did following a February loss to Dan Hooker. After that setback, Felder openly considered calling it a career before ultimately reconsidering.
“I can tell you guys with certainty: I’m not going anywhere right now,” Felder said during his post-fight interview with Michael Bisping. “I lost my passion for this sport pretty bad. I can tell you I’m not done. I might lose my ranking a little bit, but what I’ve learned in this sport is none of that matters. What matters is going out there, showing up, showing who you are inside and what determination you have.”
Felder did well landing offense when the fight was in the center of the cage but struggled when dos Anjos forced the clinch, pushed him into the fence and took him down. That ultimately proved to be the difference. Felder admitted that he hadn’t done much in the way of MMA specific training in recent months while training for a triathlon.
“I got a little tired there in the fifth, but I really think the problem is I was in striking shape and in really good cardio shape for the triathlon, but I hadn’t grappled,” Felder said. “I’ll be honest. Now I can be completely up front with you guys: I have not stepped foot in an MMA gym in almost four months. So [my performance] was completely based on pure endurance training and some pad work.
“Coming here and cutting over 22 pounds in four days, Thursday night was probably one of the darkest nights of my life cutting that weight, but I said I was going to be the first one on that scale, [and] I was the first one on that scale. I said I was going to give hell to a former world champion and give five rounds if I had to, and we just gave a five-round battle.”
On a card that was plagued by multiple fighters missing weight, Felder also had a message for those who struggled with the scale.
“For the guys that missed weight and couldn't make it here tonight, get your stuff together, hire a nutritionist, get on the scale, make weight, and go perform. I was dying on Thursday night to get on that scale at 156 pounds and I did it,” Felder said.
Regardless of what the future holds, Felder seems to have gained the passion he needs to keep moving forward with his MMA career.
“This is exactly what I wanted,” Felder said. “This sport breaks you, man. It’s tough. I see it day in and day out when I’m calling these fights. I needed something to motivate me again. … To get a split decision [against] this guy, and I think we got ‘Fight of the Night,’ I just hope the UFC is proud of me and happy, and I hope everybody back home – I love you guys. This was for my dad, this was for my family. This was for you guys.”