Paul Felder was on the cusp of moving into title contention had he defeated Dan Hooker at UFC on ESPN+ 26 in February. He instead lost a narrow split-decision, indicating that it might have been his final fight in the Octagon.
“I knew it was close. I felt like I hurt him a lot in the fight. I felt like I busted him up pretty good, but that might be it for me. I got a four-year-old at home that misses me every time I go away like this. I don’t know. I’m not sure. I’ll go back, I’ll talk to my family,” Felder said after the fight.
Amidst the current coronavirus pandemic that has since enveloped the world, Felder has had a change of heart, telling fellow UFC commentator Jon Anik recently that he’s got a new appreciation for fighting.
“After all of this, with what we’re going through, I cannot wait to fight again,” Felder told Anik on Wednesday during an Instagram Live conversation.
Felder had won five consecutive lightweight bouts prior to the loss to Hooker. His only loss during that stretch was a short-notice welterweight bout with Mike Perry.
The loss to Hooker slowed his momentum considerably. The 34-year-old fighter knew it would be a difficult climb back to his ultimate goal of becoming a UFC champion.
While he’s since enjoyed some time off with his family, Felder is once again feeling the itch to get back in the cage.
“I’m sitting with (my daughter) and we’re having a great time. The family time is great, but I just miss that fire. You don’t realize how important that is in your life, especially somebody like myself or anybody like myself who is an athlete that’s been doing this for so long,” said Felder.
“And to just have it stripped away from us it’s like, ‘F—, man!’”
And just like that, Felder declared himself back in business, even though the UFC is currently at a standstill.
UFC President Dana White hopes to change that with UFC 249 slated to take place on May 9 at an as yet undisclosed location. If that event happens as planned, White is shooting for it to be the start of a weekly run of events to make up for lost time.
It appears that if and when that happens, Felder will be at the ready to reignite his career.
“I can’t wait to get back to doing this. But I’m also realistic. I’m not one of these people that’s like, ‘We need to just open everything up.’ I don’t want a second wave, I don’t want any of that stuff,” Felder stated.
“I will never take this for granted ever again. I think that’s something we’re all gonna learn with this craziness, if anything.”
(Courtesy of UFC)