Paul Felder’s first career loss came at the hands of 155-pound contender Edson Barboza in 2015. Apart from tasting defeat for the first time, it is a fight that “The Irish Dragon” was reminded off days after it happened.
“I’m not going to blame that on why I lost,” he said. “You could, I guess, if you wanted to find a way out, but it didn’t help things, that’s for sure. I feel like I had pretty good momentum in that round and then I took that shot and I didn’t take a lot of time to recover, because that’s how it is when we’re in there.”
“You’re under a lot of pressure in there; there’s the crowd and there’s the ref talking to you the whole time and your opponent is just standing on the other side of the Octagon,” he continued. “There are a lot of things pushing you to just continue the match.
“I did that and I’m sure it negatively affected me for sure. That had me sick to my stomach for a while there, I was peeing blood after the fight.”
Felder feels the massive improvements he’s had over the last four years since he fought Barboza, as he prepares for their rematch at UFC 242 on September 7th in Abu Dhabi.
“The only thing that I think remains the same is my toughness and my durability—I think that’s what I had and what got me through that fight with him,” he said. “My base skills were there, I was a powerful guy and a pretty decent striker. Since working with Duke, and even with my team in Philly, that’s got a lot better.
“Duke [Roufus] is a mastermind. I’ve just been adding more clinch and more takedowns and working with my jiu-jitsu coaches,” Felder explained. “I’m so much more well-rounded and so much more composed. I was so violent and aggressive when I first fought him, I was all balls and pressure. It was just get in there and scrap, now it’s the same mentality with more versatility.”
Felder and Barboza will co-headline the event, which is bannered by a lightweight unification title fight between Khabib Nurmagomedov and Dustin Poirier.