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30th Jun 2018

Paul Felder responds to soul-destroying change by accepting very dangerous fight

Big 'Irish Dragon' balls

Ben Kiely

Paul Felder has every right to be upset.

Paul Felder is on a three-fight, three-finish streak in arguably the toughest division in the UFC. While ‘the Irish Dragon’ hasn’t had much of a problem booking fights this year, he’s had a major issue holding onto them.

At UFC 223, he was scheduled to fight Al Iaquinta. Of course, ‘Ragin’ ended up stepping in to fight Khabib Nurmagomedov for the lightweight belt in the main event after Max Holloway was pulled from the fight. ‘Blessed’, who was set to make his 155 lb debut as a replacement for Tony Ferguson who blew out his knee in a freak incident at the start of fight week, was deemed unfit to continue his weight cut by the athletic commission.

After Holloway was withdrawn the day of the weigh-ins, the scramble began. Former champion Anthony Pettis was initially thought to be the guy as his scheduled opponent Michael Chiesa was forced off the card due to injuries sustained in the Conor McGregor bus attack. However, ‘Showtime’ couldn’t reach an agreement with the promotion.

Felder put his name forward but he was supposedly blocked from taking the fight by the commission because he was not a ranked fighter. So, Iaquinta moved up to the headline slot and Felder was left fightless.

‘Slapped in the face’

Felder received his show money at UFC 223 for making weight. He was subsequently matched up against streaking lightweight James Vick for UFC Boise in July. However, when Iaquinta pulled out of his bout against Justin Gaethje in August, the promotion needed a replacement.

Unfortunately for Felder, they went with Vick. This meant that for the second time in 2018, he had a fight booked and subsequently get scrapped through no fault of his own.

Unsurprisingly, he was pretty damn pissed.

Going Platinum

Felder’s a big boy. Making 156 lbs isn’t an easy task for him, as he explained on the MMA Hour after UFC 223.

“It’s not easy for me. I don’t make 155 lbs easy. It’s an eight-week journey for me to get down to that weight class. I was 180 lbs the morning of the fight. But for me to just pop down on a weeks’ notice, my body’s not going to allow me to do that. It’s going to retain some things for a couple of weeks because of what I just put it through. I go away for six to eight weeks of a training camp. I leave my family, I don’t see my daughter, I’ve got stuff I’ve got to take care of.”

Missing out on another dance partner would have cost him money, time with his family and getting that fight itch scratched. The last two switch-ups have also stalled his progression. A win over Iaquinta at UFC 223 or Vick at Boise would have guaranteed him a spot in the rankings.

However, he just couldn’t have another pointless fight camp, so he decided to change tack.

After that social media exchange, Felder (15-3, 7-3 UFC) agreed to fight welterweight knockout monster Mike Perry (11-3, 4-3 UFC) at UFC 226. Perry’s original opponent for the event, Yancy Medeiros, withdrew with a broken rib. Although Perry is riding consecutive losses to Santiago Ponzinibbio and Max Griffin, he’s one dangerous 170 lber. All of his wins have come by way of KO.

That’s one hell of a welcome to the welterweight division for Felder.