It wasn’t a surprise decision, given his comments following a February 2020 bout with Dan Hooker, but on Saturday, lightweight contender Paul Felder made his retirement as an active fighter official on the UFC Fight Night broadcast at the APEX in Las Vegas.
A pro since 2011, Philadelphia’s Felder ran off eight consecutive wins to begin his career, earning him a call from the UFC in 2014. He won his first two bouts in the Octagon, decisioning Jason Saggo before picking up his first of six post-fight bonuses with a spinning back fist knockout of Danny Castillo.
What followed was a UFC career epitomized by thrilling fights and an aggressive style that didn’t mesh with his analytical nature, but the fans never complained watching his Fight of the Night battles with Edson Barboza, Hooker, and Rafael Dos Anjos or his knockouts of Alessandro Ricci, Stevie Ray and newly crowned lightweight champ Charles Oliveira.
Yet despite having a semi-straight path to a rematch with Oliveira with a couple wins, after his grueling war with Hooker, Felder admitted that he didn’t know if he wanted to continue to go through the process of getting ready for a fight and leaving his daughter for training camp anymore.
Of course, it was not a shock when Felder agreed to face Dos Anjos on less than a week’s notice last November.
“It was always gonna be about what excites me to do this,” said Felder on his return to meet RDA. “And when I got the call, I was on the treadmill, doing my workout, and just the idea of stepping in on this short notice and facing a legend like RDA, it brought that fire back that I absolutely needed, and that's why I did it.”
Dos Anjos decisioned Felder, and since then, the Philly battler has stayed busy with his triathlon training and commentary work, but as far as fighting goes, he’s content to say that chapter is closed.
That doesn’t mean he won’t be missed, but after a career well fought, he earned this moment.