For a quiet week for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, lightweight Paul Felder was the hero of the moment. Not only did the dude step out of retirement to face former champ Rafael dos Anjos on less than a week’s notice, he agreed to do it at 155 pounds and for five rounds, as per the original main event terms. Watch the highlights from their UFC Vegas 14 fight here.
The fact that he came up short on all but one crack smoking judge’s scorecards doesn’t make his performance any less impressive. And we include everything he did from the moment he accepted the fight to the post-fight interview with Michael Bisping as part of that impressive performance. Because after he got blanked on the scorecards of the judges that were actually paying attention, he went and gave a fiery speech about seizing opportunities and showing what you’re made of.
Even if you haven’t stepped into an MMA gym in months.
“I got a little tired there in the fifth,” Felder said. “And I really think the problem was I was in striking shape, I was in cardio shape for the triathlon. But I hadn’t grappled. Now I can be completely honest. I hadn’t stepped foot in an MMA gym in almost four months. So that was completely based on endurance training and some pad work.”
“And then coming in here and cutting over 22 pounds over 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. I was the first one on that scale. I said I was gonna go and give hell to a former world champion and go five rounds if I had to. We just had a five round battle. And I can tell you guys with certainty: I’m not going anywhere right now.”
Not only is Paul Felder returning to active duty, he said he’d accept another offer like the dos Anjos one again should it arise.
“You’re only given [a few of] these opportunities to shine and make a statement,” Felder said. “And I said over and over again this wasn’t necessarily about wins and losses. I know how talented Rafael dos Anjos was, I knew what I was in for. And this is exactly what I wanted. And to get a split decision over this guy and hopefully I think we got Fight of the Night here? So I just hope the UFC is proud of me and happy. And I hope everyone back home, I love you guys. This is for my dad, for my family. This was for you guys.”
“I lost my passion for this sport pretty bad,” he admitted. “And to all my Philly friends and family and teammates back home, I love you guys and miss you guys. 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, showing the determination you have.”
He finished his interview by throwing some serious heat at the four fighters that flubbed their weigh-ins for UFC Vegas 14.
“And for the guys that misses weight and couldn’t compete here tonight,” an angry Felder said. “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 155 pounds and I did it. Showed up tonight for 25 minutes with no training, just training for a triathlon.”
“So get your stuff together, get your shit together, and let’s go.”
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