What a turn of events. Paul ‘The Irish Dragon’ Felder is in line to make his Octagon return on just five days notice, as he replaces Islam Makhachev and clashes with former lightweight champion, Rafael dos Anjos in a 155-pound main event at UFC Vegas 14 this weekend.
Reports began to circulate last night that American Kickboxing Academy mainstay, Makhachev had withdrawn from his main event clash with division returner, dos Anjos, amid a staph infection, with the promotion actively searching for a replacement which would keep the Brazilian on the card.
Taking Makhachev’s place on just five days notice is perennial lightweight contender, Felder, who had briefly contemplated his career following a razor-thin contentious split decision defeat to Dan ‘The Hangman’ Hooker in the main event of UFC Fight Night Auckland in February. News of Felder’s stunning short-notice signature was initially reported by ESPN MMA reporter, Brett Okamoto.
Felder, a staple of Duke Roufus’ Roufusport in Milwaukee had scored two straight wins prior to his close judging loss to Hooker, avenging an earlier career defeat to fellow striker, Edson Barboza after a unanimous decision victory of his own over James Vick. In the time since his defeat to Hooker, Felder has continued to hone his skills on the mic as a colour-commentator, warranting plaudits from the mixed martial arts community to boot.
For former division kingpin, dos Anjos, the Niterol native retains the opportunity to make his division return following a unanimous decision defeat to former interim champion, Tony ‘El Cucuy’ Ferguson back in November 2016.
In welterweight wins since, the Evolve MMA trainee has managed to secure victories over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny, former division best, Robbie Lawler, and Kevin Lee.