Sunday, August 14, 2022

Paul Felder Opens Up On Decision To Officially Retire

Paul Felder has officially retired from MMA competition at the age of 37.

Yesterday, following the UFC Vegas 27 broadcast, Paul Felder revealed that he has decided to retire from MMA. Felder had contemplated retirement in the recent past. Following his loss to Dan Hooker last year, Felder was strongly considering retiring at that point. And leading into his next fight against Rafael dos Anjos, he expressed that he was on the fence about whether that would be his last contest or not. After the bout, Felder stated “with certainty” that he was not going to retire. 

Speaking with reporters after his retirement bombshell, Felder opened up more on what led to this reversal.

“I don’t think I’m gonna get to the belt,” Felder told reporters during the UFC Vegas 27 post-fight press conference. “I think this is the first time where I finally really think, after those two losses in a row, watching guys like Jacare break their arm, watching guys like Cowboy fight five more fights past what I think they should, and I’m like, I’m not going to be that guy. I’ve said from the very beginning in this sport, I won’t be that guy who fights past his expiration date. And I think it’s here. And I think maybe it’s a touch early, but I’d rather be a touch early than a touch late.”

Felder also stated after the Rafael dos Anjos fight that he had lost his passion for the sport for a while and hinted that he had rediscovered it. But this reignition was short-lived, as Felder admitted that the spark was now gone, which contributed to him not training in about three months.

Felder also attributed the lack of a competitive spark to not being motivated to compete against the fighters he would be paired against at the present time.

“Who am I gonna fight right now?” Felder asked. “There’s plenty of guys below me that are amazing: Islam Makhachev, Diego Ferreira, Gregor Gillespie…yeah, they could probably beat me. I could probably beat them—not excited about it. Tony Ferguson, three-fight losing streak, not excited about that. Don’t want to do that. I don’t want to do a week in the hospital, breaking my orbital, breaking my face, puncturing a lung, more scars and cuts than I can even count, I don’t want that anymore.”

Felder’s Desire To Exit Lightweight Radar Prompted Announcement

The name of Islam Makhachev was recently linked with Felder’s, with Daniel Cormier stating last week that he knows for a fact that both Felder and Rafael dos Anjos turned down a fight against the streaking Dagestani. Felder confirmed that he has turned down fights as of late, though he did not directly mention rejecting a fight against Makhachev.

The reason for the rejections is because the Irish Dragon knew that his fire was gone and that it was only a matter of time before he made his retirement official. 

“Everybody’s like, ‘Well, why don’t you just wait around? I’m like, well, there’s still gonna be a number next to my name, which means people are gonna be berating me constantly,” Felder said. “And I was so sick of being called a coward, being called afraid, ducking people, which everyone in this room knows goddamn well there’s not an ounce of truth in that. Did I turn down fights? Yeah, because I don’t want to fight anymore, and I couldn’t say that because I hadn’t officially announced my retirement. 

Paul Felder. Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

“So I got all these guys trying to fight me, and all these fans turning on me and telling me how much of a coward I am when, really, in my mind, it’s because I know I’m not gonna compete anymore. So that’s why it was finally time to be like, ‘Alright, I gotta clear the air. I gotta let everyone know that this is how I feel. Yeah, it hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m sure it will.”

Paul Felder leaves behind a professional record of 17-6 and a UFC record of 9-6. He has racked up six performance bonuses through his time in the promotion and has become widely regarded as a fan favorite for his entertaining fights and never-say-die attitude. Felder is currently a commentator for the promotion, a position in which he continues to excel and that will no doubt make the transition into retirement life more easeful.

How will you remember the career of “The Irish Dragon” Paul Felder?

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