It was February 2020 when fan favorite Paul Felder first broached the idea of retirement. “The Irish Dragon” left his gloves in the Octagon after a split decision loss to Dan Hooker in Auckland.
Felder took part in a short-notice fight in November against former champion Rafael dos Anjos, whom he also sadly lost by split decision. During saturday UFC Vegas 27 aired, the 155-pound number nine contender decided it was finally time to step away from the sport.
Felder had the opportunity to speak to the media after the event and explained the factors that led to his decision.
“I don’t think I’ll make it to the belt,” he said bluntly. “I think this is the first time that I finally really think, like, after those two straight losses, watching guys like Jacare break their arm, watching guys like Cowboy fight five more fights when I think they should do it.
“And I’m like, ‘I’m not going to be that guy.’ I’ve said it since the very beginning of this sport, I won’t be that guy who fights past its expiration date. And I think it’s here.
“I think it might be a little early, but I’d rather be a little earlier than late.”
Felder revealed that he signed a new contract, which he said was very favorable. But with it came new achievements of not having the same passion for the sport he had played in for the past nine years.
“I have a new contract that I haven’t even had to fight for yet,” he said. “So this shows you that it’s not an easy decision and it’s not like I don’t get the things I want… That’s when you know it’s time.” .
“After that RDA fight, they took my contract which had three more fights in it, threw it out and said, ‘here’s your new one.’ And it was a good one. It’s the one I’ve always wanted, or at least I’m getting close to it.
“Obviously if I keep winning fights it will get better. But who am I going to fight against? Who am I going to fight now? There are a lot of guys below me who are amazing. Islam Makhachev, Diego Ferreira, Gregor Gillespie… Yeah, they can probably beat me, I can probably beat them. I’m not excited about it. Tony Ferguson, three-game losing streak, isn’t excited about it. I don’t want to do this.
“I don’t want to do a week in the hospital, break my orbital, break my face, puncture a lung. More scars and cuts than I can count. I don’t want that anymore.
Felder remembered the exact moment in practice when he was absolutely sure it was time to hang up.
“If I couldn’t get to the gym, to an MMA gym, or to hit pads, or to attack myself, or to do something, I would lose my scary mind,” he said. “And I haven’t been to an MMA gym for probably three months. And then before that, it might have been a pad session where I did five laps, and then I was like, “I don’t want to do this. “
“That spark that I have to fight, especially the way I fight, just wasn’t there anymore.
“The only reason it took so long is that I really gave everyone a chance to convince myself. And the UFC has been really patient with me and really good with me. Sean Shelby called me several times, had a conversation with me to see where my head was.
“We’ve had this conversation twice now, recently, then the second, I finally called them back the other day, and I was like, ‘I’m retiring on Saturday. I finished.’ “
He may not have been able to achieve his ultimate goal, but what legacy does Paul Felder want to leave behind?
“Someone who hadn’t quit smoking. This is how I would like to be remembered.
Felder, 36, holds notable victories over Edson Barboza, James Vick and Charles Oliveira, to name a few. In his six years of racing in the UFC, he won three honors in Fight of the Night and Performance of the Night.