Paul Felder has heard this one before: With the other, less physically grueling possibilities he’s got outside the cage, why does he stick with the one that involves face-punching?
To that, he has a straightforward answer.
“I could have also got a desk job somewhere,” Felder told MMAjunkie in Chicago, where he fulfilled guest fighter duties for this past Saturday’s UFC 225. “Or go to work for SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority), the public transportation department in (Philadelphia). I could have done that, too, but I didn’t.
“I chose to get punched in the face and kicked for next to nothing for years so I could be where I’m at right now.”
Where Felder (15-3 MMA, 7-3 UFC) is, right now, is on a three-fight winning streak in the UFC’s competitive 155-pound division. He’s also filling the 15th spot of USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, with a co-headliner scheduled against No. 10 ranked fighter James Vick (13-1 MMA, 9-1 UFC).
Things haven’t been looking too bad outside the octagon, either. Not only has Felder, who’s also dabbed in acting in the past, been booking gigs as a color commentator for the UFC – he’s been getting some praise for that, as well. He’s even snagged a nomination for “Analyst of the Year” in the 10th Annual Fighters Only World MMA Awards.
Still, at 33, Felder sees himself as one thing first: a fighter. And “a scrappy as hell” one, at that. Even if it’s one who happens to have gotten a chance to do some work in the commentary booth.
“Zach Candito (UFC’s coordinating producer) and all those guys, they know that,” Felder said. “They know I’m making my run right now – that I want to make a shot toward the top-5 and the belt. And then, when I’m a little older, and I’m banged up too much and I don’t want my daughter to see me coming home beat up anymore, then I’ll focus on being a full-time analyst and try to get back to the acting scene and all that stuff. But right now, I’m too damn close to what I’ve dreamt of and set out to do to be like, ‘Well, I’ve got some color commentary work now, I can do that.’”
So it’s on to the more immediate plans – and they start on July 14, when Felder meets Vick in the co-main event of UFC Fight Night 133. The event takes place at CenturyLink Arena in Boise, Idaho, and is expected to air on FS1 following early prelims on UFC Fight Pass, though the full bout order and fight card haven’t been finalized.
While Felder is not in too shabby of a spot, having earned bonuses in two of his most recent wins and landed himself at No. 14 in the UFC’s official rankings, he knew No. 11 Vick would be “bummed out” with the matchup. After all, it’s not secret that the ever-vocal Vick, fresh off a win over Francisco Trinaldo, has been aiming higher.
But Vick’s also complained of his fellow lightweights turning down fights with him. Felder, in turn, is not one to dodge anyone. Vick, he says, was the first name that came to him from UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby. Thus, Felder was the one who said yes.
Felder now has what he sees as a big fight – literally, taking Vick’s height into account. But, while Felder acknowledges Vick’s physical and technical merits, he also sees ways around them.
“I think he’s got really good submissions, especially his D’Arce and guillotine,” Felder analyzed. “He’s got long arms and knows how to use them in the grappling department, but a lot of guys shoot on him and try to take him down, which opens you up. When you fight tall guys or even long guys who are good at subs like that, you can’t shoot sloppy. You’ve got to be perfect on your shot, or they’re going to wrap your neck up and choke you out.
“Luckily, that’s not – I don’t think it’s giving away any of the gameplan. People probably don’t think I’m going to be shooting sloppy double legs – unless I’m rocked. But he’s got a good uppercut. He uses his length. He’s been throwing a lot of wacky kicks and stuff like that, which I hope he does. I hope he tries to kick and play the range game. I think that puts him right in my wheel house.”
Of course, that’s easier said than done. After all, Vick has met 10 opponents in the octagon before, including battle-tested men like Trinaldo and Joe Duffy, and, despite their best efforts, only one has been able to stop him. That was Beneil Dariush, who knocked Vick out in the first round of their UFC 199 meeting back in 2016.
As far as blueprints go, though, that’ll do for Felder.
“The last time he fought another opponent that was ranked and on his level, he got knocked out,” Felder said. “That’s what we’re trying to repeat. We’re trying to keep the pressure on him and put him out. And I think if I can put out a guy like James Vick, on the tear that he’s on, I think I take his spot on the rankings right away.
“I think I go right from No. 14 to No. 11 and he gets bumped down. I know he wants to make a run for the title, himself, too, and we’re going to find out who’s moving in July 14.”
To hear more from Felder, check out the video above.
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Paul Felder's plan for UFC Boise foe James Vick: Keep pressure, put him out, then take his spot