MMA Ratings Podcast

November 18, 2020

UFC: Paul Felder Is A Fighter We Can All Get Behind

By Raphael Garcia

There are moments in the sport of mixed martial arts when a fighter breaks through and becomes a bigger deal than just another athlete plying his or her craft. Paul Felder had such a moment this Saturday night at UFC Vegas 12. Even though he suffered a split decision loss to Rafael dos Anjos in the main event, Felder further established himself as a fan favorite the likes of which the UFC has not seen in quite a while.

Felder took a major risk this past weekend at the UFC Apex. Heading into the event he was sitting pretty with a spot in the Top 10 of the UFC lightweight rankings. Dos Anjos, a former champion at 155 pounds, was coming back down to the weight class after going 1-4 in his last five fights at 170 pounds. He was originally slated to face Islam Makhachev, but Makhachev was forced to pull out of the event due to a staph infection. And even though Felder talked about retiring after his split decision loss to Dan Hooker back in February, "The Irish Dragon had not left the sport entirely. He stepped from the commentary booth into the Octagon to "save" the card and earn another payday. And along the way, Felder picked up legions of new fans.

Right now, the UFC is devoid of stars that fans should be proud to get behind, who the promotion also wants to push. It seems like every time the company puts its promotional weight behind someone, that person’s skeletons hop out of the closet to dance gleefully. Felder does not have those issues. In addition, serving on the commentary desk has made him even more beloved among fight fans, as he lets down his guard and allows fans to peer into his real life, without any of the over-the-top theatrics that come with the majority of the roster. Felder is not out here talking about fighting in a way that can be considered disrespectful or denigrating. He talks about mixed martial arts like he is a fan, so much so that it helps him relate to the people who enjoy watching on a weekly basis.

Upon further review, one could view Felder as a second-coming of sorts to Brian Stann. Stann was never a top title contender, but that never stopped him from becoming a favorite within the UFC fanbase. Stann’s work in the commentary booth helped him transition into someone that fans wanted to see. There were even some people who believed that he could have taken on a higher position within the UFC if he desired (though that never came to fruition, as he went on to work on other endeavors outside of fighting).

Paul Felder has the rare opportunity to be viewed as one of the good guys in an industry that continuously shows the worst of people. If he puts together one final run of a fights in a UFC lightweight division that currently lacks a champion, fans will remember Felder for much more beyond his win and lost record. He will be remembered as a guy that everyone could truly get behind.

UFC Fight Night
Rafael dos Anjos vs. Paul Felder: Rafael dos Anjos def. Paul Felder via split decision (47-48, 50-45, 50-45).

UFC Fight Night: Felder vs. Dos Anjos (formerly UFC Fight Night: Makhachev vs. Dos Anjos) took place November 14, 2020 at UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada.

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