Will Paul Felder Actually Stay Retired From MMA Action?
Back in February, Paul Felder fought Dan Hooker to a split decision loss in New Zealand. Considered the Fight of the Night, Felder (17-5) stated he would be hanging up the gloves for good. It appears he was just on a break.
Recently, Felder stated his fire to compete has reignited and that he is ready to return to action. This is during a time in which he has become a full-time commentator for the UFC. Seeing the action, “The Irish Dragon’s” desire to compete never really went away. His “retirement” was more of an extended layoff.
“I’m benching myself for a second,” Felder would say to MMA Junkie. “I think that’s the way I would really consider it. I just needed a little break, man. That fight in New Zealand was a tough one. I pour my soul into these fight camps, man. I really don’t hold back. It’s not like I casually take a fight because I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah, I think I can beat that guy. How many weeks do we have?’ I really try to make sure I check all the boxes. I did that for that one.
“It was so close, and your heart gets broken with a decision. It’s not like I’m crying about it. I just needed time. That was a lot. I was gone for a long time. … I just wanted to be home for a little bit.”
Felder started his MMA journey in 2011. The 35-year-old made his UFC debut in 2014, beating Danny Castillo via knockout. The lightweight has gone 9-5 with the promotion and was on a two-fight win streak before losing to Hooker.
The months of training leading to one night of violence ended up taking a toll on him and his family. A fight he can sink his teeth into would be one of the best reasons for him to come back.
“I’m busy,” Felder ended up saying. “I’m buying a house. I’m just in no rush to come back for something that will not excite me. I need the next fight to be something that scares me and gets me training and gets me motivated and gives me a reason to leave at eight, nine, (or) 10 weeks at a time and put my body through what it goes through.”
When it comes to a fight that scares him, a familiar opponent might do the trick. This past weekend inside the UFC’s APEX Center, Hooker lost to Dustin Poirier in a Fight of the Year contender. Both fighters gave it their all, with Poirier landing 222 shots while Hooker landed 182. By the end of round two, they landed a combined 118 shots. In the end, Hooker lost via unanimous decision, with Poirier one step closer to lightweight gold.
Felder was one of several fighters who reacted to the fight, stating he’d come out of retirement to face either fighter. He would also face another lightweight contender in Tony Ferguson, who lost to Justin Gaethje a few months ago.
“That is what would bring me back – a rematch with Dan,” Felder stated. “Now, it’d just be, ‘Let’s just run it back.’ Listen, I’ve never really sat and whined and complained about the decision. But it was close enough where you could warrant a rematch between us. … So, yeah, (Hooker), Tony Ferguson, Dustin (Poirier). The chances of Conor are probably zero, so I won’t even mention that. That’s just not going to happen. So, yeah, those are the fights that I want.”
During his time away, several fighters have called him out to his face. As for now, Felder is preparing to call all the action from “Fight Island”, set to take place in Abu Dhabi on Yas Island.