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Felder Steps in on Five Days’ Notice

This Saturday night, former lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos is welcomed back to the lightweight division when he takes on Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder, who stepped in to fight dos Anjos on five days’ notice.

Paul Felder, currently ranked No. 7, is coming off a very close and exciting fight with Dan Hooker back in February. The split decision went in the way of Dan Hooker, and afterwards Felder contemplated retirement. Felder and Hooker went to war, with both men taking so much damage as well as doing so much damage.

Felder debuted in the UFC in 2014, and quickly made himself known in his second fight with a spinning backfist knockout against Danny Castillo. Before the Hooker fight, Felder took on former rival Edson Barboza, who had previously beat Felder. The two would slug it out, and Felder would be awarded the split decision win. This was supposed to set up a title run for Felder, but after the Hooker fight, the path to the title seemed less likely.

Felder constantly points to his daughter as his motivation and having to face her after a loss was not something he wanted to do anymore. Luckily for Felder, he has been preparing for a triathlon, so he’s definitely in good enough shape for a five-round fight. Felder has talked about what might be next after this fight, this could be the end of Paul Felder’s career, or a brand-new run to a title shot.

Rafael dos Anjos, currently ranked No. 12 at welterweight, is the former champion at lightweight and after a mixed run at welterweight, is looking to kickstart a new chapter in his prolific career. Dos Anjos became lightweight champion by beating Anthony Pettis at UFC 185. In his first title defense, dos Anjos TKO’ed Donald Cerrone in a little over one minute.

Dos Anjos would next face Eddie Alvarez and get TKO’ed in the first round. After losing to Tony Ferguson a few months later, dos Anjos would make the move to welterweight and go 3-0 before fighting for the interim welterweight title at UFC 225 against the brash Colby Covington. The fight would go the distance, with Covington walking away with the interim belt by unanimous decision.

Dos Anjos has only won a single fight since the Covington loss, going 1-4 in his last five. Dos Anjos’s only win in that stretch was against Kevin Lee- a lightweight moving up to welterweight - and he won by fourth-round submission.

Dos Anjos mainly struggles with grapplers. Seeing how he’s always the smaller guy at welterweight, his opponents have an easier time taking dos Anjos down and controlling him on the fence and the ground. Felder is a great opponent for dos Anjos, as Felder is also predominantly a striker, but Felder is no walk in the park. Felder once had his lung collapse during a fight, and still went on to win the fight by decision. Dos Anjos won’t necessarily have to worry about Felder trying to go for a takedown, but he still needs to be cautious of the speed and power Felder brings.

This Saturday is very intriguing for both men and it’ll be interesting to see where they go from here. It’d be great to see Felder get the win, but I’m picking Rafael dos Anjos to win by decision. Catch all of the amazing fights this Saturday on ESPN+!

Tidwell’s record: 7-7

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