The lightweight division is about to get a bigger shake up than originally expected in large part thanks to commentator-turned-fighter Paul Felder.
With Islam Makachev set to fight Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC Vegas 14 in the main event, many expected the team-mate of lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov to attempt his journey towards the title.
The journey will have to wait though, as Makachev was forced to withdraw from the fight earlier in the week due to injury. That left former champion Dos Anjos with no opponent, despite calling out Mike Chandler – who turned down his invitation.
Step forward, Paul Felder. The Irish Dragon hasn’t fought since a defeat to Dan Hooker back in February where he contemplated retirement after a split-decision.
He ultimately decided to fight on though, believing he had more to give the division. That was a shining factor in his decision to take the fight with Dos Anjos on just five days notice. Not only is he taking it on short-notice but the fight will still be a five-round main event and will still be at 155lbs.
Felder has said he sees the fight at a ‘win-win’ for himself. A win could see him retire, going out with a bang with a win against the former lightweight champion. A loss means he saved the show on short-notice and will keep him hungry to return once more.
His hope is that he gets in there with Dos Anjos and is able to get a finish, to open up the opportunities against fighters in the top five which have so far eluded him during his run in the UFC.
It needs to be said that he does have a chance in this fight. Dos Anjos has been fighting at welterweight since 2016 and the weight cut back to 155lbs will no doubt be tough to do. Both men hit hard, both are comfortable grapplers and both have good footwork.
It’s no shock that Felder opens as an underdog in the fight odds but regardless of the outcome this will be a main event remembered because of the ginger fighter.
From commentary booth to octagon in such a short space of time is no mean feat and he should be rightly rewarded with title picture implications should he be successful.