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Monday Morning Hangover: What's next for Paul Felder after close loss at UFC Auckland?

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Another weekend of combat sports action has come and gone, as UFC Fight Night 168 blew the roof off Spark Arena last Sat. night (Feb. 22, 2020) in Auckland, New Zealand. Plenty of fighters were left licking their wounds, including Karolina Kowalkiewicz, who suffered her fourth straight defeat (and several injuries) after coming up short against Yan Xianonan.

But which fighter is suffering the worst post-fight hangover on Monday morning?

Paul Felder.

Coming into the ESPN+ event, Felder was on a roll, winning five of his last six in the highly-competitive Lightweight division. Capturing another big win would've likely been enough to shoot him into the Top 5 and put “The Irish Dragon” into championship consideration.

The fight lived up to its billing, as both men landed big shots, had several shining moments and never backed down during their 25 minutes of grueling, back-and-forth action. In the end, Hooker was given the split-decision win, much to the chagrin of many fans and pundits. While I wouldn’t call it highway robbery, I had Felder winning, but it was that close.

Despite the loss, Felder was in fairly good spirits while in the hospital tending to his injuries.

“I can’t tell what my face looks like right now, but it doesn’t look good. I feel like I look kind of like Action Bronson—is that his name?—because it’s so swollen," he said on one of his Instagram stories.

As for what’s next for “The Irish Dragon,” that remains to be seen after he hinted at retirement during his post-fight interview. Felder has been in the game for nearly a decade, and has never cut corners when fight night rolls around, putting it all on the line each and every time. He also mentioned in his speech that his family members are the ones who make sacrifices when he's gone for weeks at a time, so that takes a heavy toll on the mind, too.

On the bright side, Felder has excelled in his second career as a UFC broadcaster, and will be in line for more of those opportunities once his fighting days are completely over.

If he does return, perhaps a showdown against Al Iaquinta is in order. Sure, Dustin Poirier and “Ragin’ Al” are currently trying to lock down a fight against each other, but Poirier only wants it to go down at Welterweight, and he expects UFC to give him a huge sack of cash before he signs on the dotted line.

Unless the occasion calls for a super fight in a different weight class, I personally want to see fighters stay in their own divisions to keep things moving along in order to find new title contenders. The last time I checked, the only person with the juice to win a fight at 170 pounds and then get thrown into the championship mix at Lightweight — despite losing in his last fight in that division — is Conor McGregor.

Back on topic, a fight between Felder and Iaquinta sounds interesting, and when we look at the rest of the 155-pound landscape, it simply makes sense.

Unless, of course, you have a better idea?

For complete UFC Fight Night 168: “Felder vs Hooker” play-by-play updates and results click here.