Paul Felder is buzzing off a split decision win over Edson Barboza at UFC 242, and now he wants a big-name fight.
The 34-year-old Roufusport fighter named four opponents he would next like to fight. All four men are ahead of him in the lightweight rankings, and three of them are in the top five. “The Irish Dragon” broke down what he hopes will come next for him when speaking with Petesy Carroll on MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.
“Fight [Conor McGregor]? I wouldn’t mind it,” Felder said. “I like making money—plus he’s up there. He’s got numbers next to his name that I want to take. If you wanna talk about that fight, you know it’s going to be goddamn striking battle with me. And Conor is obviously not going to be trying to take me down either. But I’m also not one of those people that’s going to play his game and beg for something like that. If I know that I’m not the guy that’s going to get it, I’m not going to go crazy trying to get it. But I would absolutely love to throw down with him.”
And while he’s not currently ranked in that core “top 5” that Felder called out after his big win, the Philly native wouldn’t mind a bout with Al Iaquinta – among others – provided Iaquinta can get by Dan Hooker at UFC 243.
“Me and Al [Iaquinta] still have unfinished business. I love that guy, he’s awesome, but if he beats Dan Hooker, I think that’s a great matchup,” Felder continued before turning his attention to Gaethje. “Obviously, I want to fight Justin Gaethje some day, and I feel like he’s really deserving of a big fight moving forward. I’m not fighting [Donald] ‘Cowboy’ [Cerrone], so it’s very limited in terms of who is ahead of me, so we’ll see what happens from here. I don’t know, we’ll see. I’m curious to see what happens to be honest with you.”
Felder knows that the division’s elite are the kinds of men he’ll have to beat if he ever wants to get his own chance at a title. Especially if Khabib doesn’t drop his title anytime soon. If Felder can’t get by Gaethje or Poirier, how is he going to beat the champ?
“I would say Justin Gaethje or Dustin Poirier [are my ideal next opponents] – Dustin because he just fought for the belt,” Felder continued. “If I can jump the line and skip ahead like that—I mean, sh*t. And he’s a great striker, a great boxer. That lends itself to the kind of fights that I’m used to being in and one that the fans want. Whatever happens, we’re probably getting a bonus. It would be one of those fights that goes back and forth. [It would come down to] who’s tougher and who can take the bigger shots, and those are the fights that turn me on.”
Fingers crossed UFC matchmakers give Felder something that turns him on.