Popular UFC lightweight contender Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder is the last UFC fighter to defeat UFC lightweight champion Charles Oliveira, but it doesn’t appear the 36-year-old 155-pound star will get the chance to do it again. Felder announced during the ESPN+ telecast of UFC Vegas 27 on Saturday that he was officially retiring from MMA.
Felder said, “I’m officially stepping down because it’s not right to hold up a division. I wish more people would do this.”
Felder was calling the action in his role as a UFC commentator. You can watch his entire speech from the desk below.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) May 23, 2021
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Felder Lost Last Two Fights
Felder hasn’t competed in the Octagon since losing via decision to Rafael dos Anjos in a short-notice contest in November 2020.
That loss made it two straight for the fighter. Felder also lost to Dan Hooker nine months prior in a blistering throwdown that left both fighters a bloody mess.
After that fight, Felder toyed with the idea of retiring but eventually said he wasn’t so sure it was the path he wanted to take. Now, the UFC star has officially announced his plan to retire from MMA.
Paul Felder, on his Instagram story, said he’ll hopefully only be in the hospital overnight. Though he said his face is “definitely broken” following his UFC Auckland loss to Dan Hooker. Felder: “I can’t tell what my face looks… https://t.co/L3xmSo2Sl7 pic.twitter.com/I4cCnbOfjt
— Marc Raimondi (@marc_raimondi) February 23, 2020
Felder explained how that decision came to be.
“It’s been really since February when I fought Dan Hooker down in New Zealand, I got the fire back a little bit when I fought RDA on five days’ notice. I thought it was back,” Hooker said.
But whatever gumption to fight that came along with facing RDA didn’t stay with him long. Felder said he came to the realization that he just doesn’t want to fight anymore.
“Every since then, I’ve spent most of my days swimming, biking and running, and enjoying commentary, enjoying my time with my family, and I feel like it’s got to a point where it’s just like I don’t have that burning desire to fight on for many more years to become the champion,” Felder said.
— Kelsey McCarson (@kelsey_mccarson) May 23, 2021
So Felder said his retirement is a way to honor his belief about how all pro fighters should manage this important decision.
“I’ve always said that if I don’t see that title picture in the next year or so in my future, that I would retire, and I would do it for my friends, my family and myself, to save myself,” Felder said.
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Felder on Health and UFC Career
Felder has been in some serious wars inside the UFC’s Octagon, but the lightweight star believes he’ll still able to walk away from the sport with his health.
“I’m 37 years old. I feel fresh. I love the UFC with all my heart for everything they’ve given me, for every opportunity I’ve ever had, to be sitting here at this desk, to be working on television is something I’ve always wanted to do. I’m going to keep doing this, and I’m retiring official from the sport of mixed martial arts and the UFC,” Felder said.
Felder expressed joy about his UFC career. He never challenged for the UFC’s lightweight championship but he’s been one of the top contenders in the sport.
“I got as high as No. 6 in the world, got pretty damn close to fighting for that belt. I’ve fought some of the baddest dudes in this division. I want to think all of them as well…,” Felder said.
Felder Apologizes for Holding Up Division
But Felder believes it’s time for him to walk away from the sport, and he wishes more fighters would do the same, especially whenever it’s best for both themselves and the sport as a whole.
He even apologized to the fighters ranked below him in the rankings right now for keeping the slot filled. Felder is currently ranked No. 9.
“I want to say, ‘my apologies for holding up the division’ to all the guys behind me and all the young guns out there who are…chomping at the bit to get those fights, to fight me, to be able to get to the belt. Well, I’m officially stepping down because it’s not right to hold up a division. I wish more people would do this. When it’s time, it’s time,” Felder said.
And don’t expect “The Irish Dragon” to change his mind. He’s set his course, and he’ll follow it.
“I feel it. I trust in it. I’m confident in it. Yeah, that’s it for me,” Felder said.
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