Paul Felder isn’t going to retire following his loss to Rafael dos Anjos at UFC Fight Night 182.
Stepping up as a main event replacement on just five days’ notice, Felder (17-6 MMA, 9-6 UFC) lost a split decision to former champ dos Anjos (31-13 MMA, 19-11 UFC) on Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. He fought valiantly over the course of five rounds, but he just didn’t have enough to overcome his foe.
Felder had been toying with the idea of retirement since another split decision loss to Dan Hooker this past February. Since then, Felder’s UFC analyst and commentary work has taken a prominent role in his life, and he’s admitted it might be a full-time transition sooner than later. The fight with dos Anjos has seemingly changed his mind, though.
“I can tell you guys with certainty: I’m not going anywhere right now,” Felder told Michael Bisping in his UFC Fight Night 182 post-fight interview. “I lost my passion for this sport pretty bad. 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 and what determination you have.”
Felder’s mentality post-fight seemingly had much to do with the circumstances coming in. He made no secret that MMA training has been on the back burner, but he was able to fill the role in the UFC Fight Night 182 main event because he’s been doing cardio training for a triathlon.
What Felder kept secret, though, is to what extent he hadn’t been putting himself through MMA preparation. He said it was essentially nonexistent for most of 2020, so the fact he went through a 25-minute fight following an intense short-notice weight cut was a big personal proving point.
“I got a little tired there in the fifth, but I really think the problem is I was in striking shape and in really good cardio shape for the triathlon, but I hadn’t grappled,” Felder said. “I’ll be honest. Now I can be completely up front with you guys: I have not stepped foot in an MMA gym in almost four months. So (my performance) was completely based on pure endurance training and some pad work. Coming here and cutting over 22 pounds in 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, (and) I was the first one on that scale. I said I was going to give hell to a former world champion and give five rounds if I had to, and we just gave a five-round battle.”
Felder said he doesn’t know exactly what will be next for him. His status at 155 pounds will diminish in some respect, but ultimately he came out with a competitive loss, a $50,000 “Fight of the Night” bonus and a newfound motivation to compete.
“This is exactly what I wanted,” Felder said. “This sport breaks you, man. It’s tough. I see it day in and day out when I’m calling these fights. I needed something to motivate me again. … To get a split decision (with) this guy, and I think we got ‘Fight of the Night,’ I just hope the UFC is proud of me and happy, and I hope everybody back home – I love you guys. This was for my dad, this was for my family. This was for you guys.”