Oversized lightweights James Vick and Paul Felder threw down tonight (Sunday, Feb. 17, 2019) from Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix, Arizona, live and free on ESPN. At stake was access to elite lightweight matchups. Vick was coming off a devastating KO loss to Justin Gaethje, while Felder had lost a close war up at welterweight to Mike Perry.
Felder attempted a lead hook early, then ate a body kick. Felder feinted his way inward, and landed a huge overhand right. Vick shook it off and threw another body kick. Vick threw a hard right hand. Felder countered him, and Vick threw a cross that caught him at the end of his long reach. Felder landed his signature spinning elbow. Vick landed a high kick off the arms, and Felder doubled up on low kicks. Felder ate a right cross from Vick. He missed a big one-two. Vick stepped forward, and Felder slipped and evaded. Felder stepped in with a combination that seemed to land. Vick stepped in with a big knee and they clinched for a second. Felder clinched Vick up against the cage with double underhooks. Vick turned him around against the cage and they separated. Vick threw his body kick. Felder threw a spinning backfist following a lead hook and rocked Vick! He followed up but ended in the clinch, and Vick survived the round.
Felder immediately tried a spinning backfist to open round two. Felder tried a spinning heel kick. Vick tried to snap his head down for a guillotine attempt, and Felder fought him off, but Vick kept him against the cage. They traded knees. Felder turned him around and broke free. Vick stepped in, ate a hook but landed his own punch. Felder kicked his legs a couple more times. Felder closed the distance and landed a big overhand. Vick landed a long right hand, Felder threw a spinning elbow as he stepped in again and Vick clinched him against the cage, trying to take Paul down. Felder ate a glancing back kick from Vick out of the clinch. Felder threw a couple hard hook-cross combinations, landed a front kick, then another hard kick to the calf, forcing Vick to switch stances. Felder landed a left hook when Vick tried a knee. Felder closed the round stepping in trying to land another hook-cross combination.
Felder threw another couple low kicks to start the third round, then a beautiful spinning back kick to the body. Vick got aggressive and Felder stung him with a left hook, then clinched him against the cage. Felder landed an elbow on the break. Vick limped away from a Felder calf kick. Felder landed a hook, while Vick landed a couple jabs. Felder landed another low kick, then ate a long straight from a blitzing Vick. Vick just missed a big right hand. Felder dropped Vick with that check hook for a second, which might have been his leg giving out. Felder circled, ate a big right hand, and they traded punches before Vick clinched Felder against the cage. Felder landed a spinning elbow as Vick stepped in! He clinched Vick against the cage, and Vick tried to snap his head down before they separated. Vick tried a couple mean knees/kicks to the body. Vick landed a jumping knee just as the bout ended. That was a tough, even fight, but Felder deservedly got the nod.
An emotional Paul Felder thanked his mom in the post-fight interview. He said he felt good, and cut a promo on the entire division that ended with ‘The Irish Dragon is coming for you!’ He said he wants a war with Justin Gaethje as soon as possible. What a fight, great win for Paul Felder.
Official result: Paul Felder def. James Vick via unanimous decision (29-28, 30-27x2)
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