Popular lightweight contender Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder was thought to be on his way into retirement, but now the 35-year-old American is returning for a UFC main event fight on just five days’ notice.
According to ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Felder has agreed to face Rafael dos Anjos in the main event of this weekend’s UFC Fight Night card at UFC APEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Per UFC officials, none other than Paul Felder (@felderpaul) is stepping in on FIVE DAYS notice to fight Rafael dos Anjos. STILL a five round fight. STILL 155 pounds. Wow.
— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 9, 2020
The fight was later announced by the UFC.
Dos Anjos, 36, from Brazil, was originally supposed to face rising contender Islam Makhachev on Saturday at UFC Vegas 14, but that fight fell through after Makhachev revealed a staph infection.
Now, Felder returns to the Octagon to face Dos Anjos in an important 155-pound bout for both competitors.
It’s a massive fight between two popular stars, and it was made less than a week before fight day.
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Felder Split Last 2 Fights, Considered Retirement
Felder split his last two UFC fights, but both were close contests that could have gone either way.
First, Felder earned a split decision over Edson Barboza in September 2019. Then, the American dropped his next fight to Dan “The Hangman” Hooker via split decision in February 2020.
On top of that, Felder suffered in that fight what appeared to be a devastating injury to his face.
“Face is definitely broken, but we’ll get that fixed,” Felder said via an Instagram story after his loss to Hooker.
A few months, Felder was looking back at some of the gruesome injuries he’s suffered during his MMA career and began wondering if he should hang up his gloves.
“I get asked a lot when I’m returning or if I’m officially retired,” Felder posted. “I miss the octagon and competing but these pictures are how I come home to a five-year-old princess. It’s a hard job.”
Felder also serves as a UFC commentator, and that role is something he would like to enjoy more in the future.
“This is why I love commentating,” Felder posted. I” get to talk about the toughest athletes on the planet.”
Calling the fights from cageside would also be something that gets Felder as close to the action as possible without having to undergo any of the risks he sees as a UFC fighter.
Regardless, it looks like facing a former champ in Dos Anjos this weekend in Las Vegas was just too good for Felder to pass up.
Felder is ranked No. 7 in the division. Dos Anjos is ranked No. 12 at welterweight, but he’s moving back down to 155 pounds for this weekend’s fight.
Dos Anjos is a former UFC lightweight champion, and the Brazilian probably hopes going back down in weight can help him recapture UFC gold there someday soon.
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