Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Lightweight strikers Stevie Ray and Paul Felder will go to war this Sunday (July 16, 2017) at UFC Fight Night 113 from inside The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Scotland.
Ray entered UFC as a fighter to watch and lived up to expectations. He has lost just once in six bouts, and his last two bouts have been a pair of wins over two long-time Lightweight veterans. Admittedly, Paul Felder hasn’t won quite as consistently as his opponent, but he’s also faced a higher level of competition. Felder has a pretty unique approach to kickboxing, which has resulted in some particularly vicious stoppages.
Let’s take a look at the keys to victory for each man:
Key Wins: Joe Lauzon (UFC Fight Night 108), Ross Pearson (UFC Fight Night 99), Leonardo Mafra (UFC Fight Night 72)
Key Losses: Alan Patrick (UFC Fight Night 94), Ivan Buchinger (Cage Warriors 63)
Keys to Victory: A talented athlete with a strong kickboxing game, Ray has struggled more with grapplers than anything else inside the Octagon. In all of his recent fights, Ray has been able to pick apart his foes.
The Scottish fighter has stopped 14 of his foes via knockout or submission.
In this bout, Ray doesn’t really have to worry about takedowns that much. Felder is a capable wrestler, but that’s not his usual approach, and he’s unlikely to be able to take down Ray consistently. With that in mind, Ray should be able to move his feet and keep this as a technical fight. Felder thrives in brawls and close-range exchanges, but he tends to reach into his bag of less effective flashy techniques when forced to chase a range striker.
Ray can play that game quite well. As he showed against Pearson, Ray can circle, kick, and suddenly plant to counter very well. So long as he sticks to the script, Ray has a fair shot of out-landing his opponent.
Key Wins: Danny Castillo (UFC 182), Josh Burkman (UFC Fight Night 88), Daron Cruickshank (UFC Fight Night 81)
Key Losses: Edson Barboza (UFC on FOX 16), Francisco Trinaldo (UFC Fight Night 95), Ross Pearson (UFC 191)
Keys to Victory: A black belt in Karate and Taekwondo, Felder definitely loves to scrap. He actually does his best work against fighters looking to close the distance — see his gorgeous intercepting knees for example — but Felder is generally pretty comfortable wherever the fight goes and is a very dangerous finisher.
This is a bout between two durable fighters, but Felder has the power and size advantage. To make use of those traits, Felder would be well-advised to pressure Ray and force him to box. Pressure is something Felder doesn’t always do well. Against Edson Barboza, he was too content too reach with kicks and spins rather than actually cut off the cage. Ray is considerably less terrifying than the Brazilian, so hopefully Felder is more effective at stopping Ray from circling.
Felder should definitely kick often, but the purpose must be to intercept Ray and pin him in place. Walking into kicks is painful and tiring, and it would leave Ray vulnerable to Felder’s follow up combinations from Felder’s preferred range.
Bottom Line: It should be a fun kickboxing war with the potential for a sudden knockout.
Ray is climbing through the ranks at a reasonable pace. Five wins in the Lightweight division is nothing to scoff at, so adding another to that total — his third in a row against the level of competition, tough but not Top 15 — would likely earn him a shot at a ranked fighter. If he comes up short, though, much of that progress is erased as other up-and-coming Lightweights rush to take his place.
It’s an interesting fight for Felder as well, as he has succeeded in gaining a fan base and becoming something of an attraction. However, he’s yet to build any real forward momentum. Ray is a respected fighter who’s been winning lately, so stopping his rise and making it four wins in his last five would be a quality start for a potential run to the top. Meanwhile, a loss pins him precisely where he stands already, as an entertaining action fighter without a ranked win.
At UFC Fight Night 113, Stevie Ray and Paul Felder will throw down on the main card. Which man will have his hand raised?