Paul Felder Steps In to Face Rafael Dos Anjos at UFC Vegas 14

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  • Paul Felder will face Rafael Dos Anjos at the main event of UFC Vegas 14 on Saturday night.
  • Felder took the fight on short notice after Islam Makhachev’s late withdrawal.
  • Dos Anjos is a slight -155 betting favorite while Felder is currently listed at +135.

UFC Vegas 14 suffered a major blow yesterday when Islam Makhachev pulled out of the main event after reportedly suffering an undisclosed injury in training. The UFC scrambled to find a replacement and Dos Anjos even went out of his way to call out promotional newcomer Michael Chandler. Chandler turned the fight down and it seemed like the UFC would be losing another main event. Thank goodness there was Paul Felder.

No Problem

Felder had hinted of a possible retirement after his close split decision loss to Dan Hooker last February. He put that decision on hold but said that he would accept only fights that would interest him. Now what would be more interesting than taking a fight on five-days notice?

Felder is 7-3 in his last 10 bouts but has dropped two out of his last four assignments. He was impressive though during his five round split decision loss to Dan Hooker as he delivered a Fight of the Night performance. The Irish Dragon is 35-years old but there’s no question he can still bang. And when you have Paul Felder, it’s never a boring fight.

The guy has earned a post fight bonus is half of his last six lightweight bouts. He is 17-5 with 10 knockouts and one submission win. Above all, he’s the ultimate company guy. Felder was supposed to work UFC Vegas 14 as a commentator. Now he’s fighting Dos Anjos in the headliner. It’s not about the rankings, nor the money. It’s about the love of fighting and saving the event:

Return To Lightweight

The fight will mark Dos Anjos’ return to lightweight. The 36-year old from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil had spent the last three years fighting at welterweight. He won his first three bouts at 170 pounds but then lost to Colby Covington at UFC 225 for the interim title. He’s gone 1-3 since and now will be moving down, back to the division where he made his name.

Dos Anjos ruled as the UFC lightweight king from March 2015 to July 2016. He defeated Anthony Pettis at UFC 185 to become champion. RDA successfully defended his belt against Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone but lost the championship during his second title defense against Eddie Alvarez. A loss to Tony Ferguson in his next bout forced him to move up to welterweight but after struggling there and his window of opportunity slowly closing, Dos Anjos has decided to return to lightweight.

Since losing the belt, Dos Anjos is just 3-6 with four losses in his last five bouts. A victory over the 11th ranked Makhachev would’ve put him right away in the lightweight rankings. With no. 7 lightweight Felder stepping in on short notice, Dos Anjos has a chance to barge in the Top 10 right away.

A Better Fight?

The bout will still be fought over five rounds and at lightweight as originally scheduled, which makes Felder’s act both brave and impressive. The Irish Dragon hasn’t fought since February but his manager says that he’s in terrific shape. According to manager Brian Butler, Felder has been biking and swimming like a madman. If Butler is to be believed, Felder’s health data says he is peaking.

Dos Anjos has opened as a slight -155 betting favorite while Felder came back at +135 in the early betting lines at The Irish Dragon has been involved in several bloody fights, including a 2019 bout against James Vick where he suffered a collapsed lung. Prior to his loss to Hooker, he had won two in a row. If those are indications, we could be getting a better main event on Saturday night.

Paul Felder has never been in a boring fight. Saturday’s bout against Rafael Dos Anjos won’t be any different. So if you weren’t planning on watching UFC Vegas 14, better change your weekend plans. RDA vs Felder could turn out to become a classic that people will talk about for years. And even if it doesn’t , it will always be remembered as the day that Paul Felder saved a UFC event.

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