From the broadcast booth to the literal main event? Surely not!
Yes, Paul Felder was supposed to be commentating on this Saturday’s UFC Vegas 14 card, which was originally set to feature Rafael dos Anjos against Islam Makhachev in a five-round lightweight battle. Makhachev withdrew from the event, leaving RDA without a dance partner with just a few days before fight night. Felder has not only agreed to fight dos Anjos but he’ll do it at 155 lbs AND it’ll still be a five-rounder.
Per UFC officials, none other than Paul Felder (@felderpaul) is stepping in on FIVE DAYS notice to fight Rafael dos Anjos. STILL a five round fight. STILL 155 pounds. Wow.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 9, 2020
Comment from Paul Felder’s manager Brian Butler (@BrianButler_Au): Any other time, this would have been impossible. But Paul has been biking and swimming like a mad man. He woke up this morning and his health data says he’s peaking. The universe wanted this to happen.— Brett Okamoto (@bokamotoESPN) November 9, 2020
The fight game is the absolute best.— Brendan Fitzgerald (@BrendanFitzTV) November 9, 2020
Felder was to be sitting to my right on the broadcast. Instead, he’s in the main event. https://t.co/tDjmsstl2m
Felder (17-5) lost a razor-thin split decision to Dan Hooker at UFC Auckland in a fight that’s been hailed as one of the best of 2020. After such a difficult and agonizing loss, Felder did contemplate retirement but indicated that he would return to the Octagon. I don’t think he envisioned returning under these circumstances, but the #7 ranked lightweight contender is stepping up in a big way.
Dos Anjos (29-13) has lost four of his last five, all in the welterweight division. He’s coming off a decision defeat to Michael Chiesa at UFC Raleigh in January. The former UFC lightweight champion’s last appearance at 155 lbs came in 2016, when he dropped a decision to Tony Ferguson.
UFC Vegas 14 streams exclusively on ESPN+, with the main card beginning at 7 PM ET/4 PM PT.