Paul Felder is ready to get back in the octagon and throw hands at least one more time.
Following an incredible 25-minute battle with Dan Hooker in the main event of February’s UFC Auckland event, Felder indicated the split decision loss could be his final fight.
But a little over two months later, in the midst of a global pandemic, Felder has had a change of heart.
“After all of this, with what we’re going through, I cannot wait to fight again,” the Philadelphia native said on Wednesday during an Instagram Live conversation with UFC play-by-play announcer Jon Anik.
Felder’s loss to Hooker snapped a five-fight winning streak that included victories over Charles Oliveira, James Vick and Edson Barboza. With those high-profile names, he had inched closer to title contention at 155 pounds.
Despite the setback, Felder’s popularity rose as fans recognized an outstanding battle of wills.
Felder certainly has a lot of options for his future with a flourishing broadcasting career and fan-friendly fight style. After a lot of reflection – and quarantine time – the decision is clearer.
“Dude, I’m on this bike, I had my manager Brian Butler send me all of these photos,” Felder explained. “I texted him last night. I said, ‘Man, I’m feeling a little depressed. I’m missing my job, I’m missing my guys, I’m missing commentary.’
“I’m sitting with [my daughter] and we’re having a great time. The family time is great, but I just, 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’s an athlete that’s been doing this for so long. Or even someone like you, (Jon), that’s been working, making this company become what it is: You are one of the faces of this company.
“And to just have it stripped away from us it’s like, ‘F*ck, man!’”
Felder has said on multiple occasions that he continues to compete with the goal of becoming a UFC world champion. During an uncertain time in the world, his goals might not have changed much, but his appreciation for his profession might be at an all-time high.
“Fu*k, I can’t wait to get back to doing this,” Felder emphatically said. “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.
“When it does come, I can not wait to wait to just (look around). I will never take this for granted ever again. I think that’s something we’re all gonna learn with this craziness, if anything.”