Not long ago, battle-hardened UFC lightweight Paul Felder was contemplating retirement from MMA after a hard-fought defeat to Dan Hooker. Now, he’s stepping up on just five days’ notice to make weight and fight former UFC lightweight champion Rafael dos Anjos in a five-round fight.
Felder is replacing Islam Makhachev to take on the Brazilian on Saturday night’s main event after the Dagestan prodigy pulled out of the contest with injury.
Makhachev has been unlucky of late. He was due to meet dos Anjos at UFC 254, but their bout was pushed back to 14 November after the latter tested positive for COVID-19.
Philadelphia’s Felder boasts a record of 9-5 in the UFC, holding victories over notable names such as Josh Burkman, Stevie Ray, James Vick, Charles Oliveira and Edson Barboza.
Dos Anjos will be returning to the lightweight division where he was once king after four years away at 170 pounds. He started life at welterweight strongly with big wins over Tarec Saffiedine, Neil Magny and Robbie Lawler. That run of wins saw him earn a shot at the interim UFC welterweight championship against Colby Covington, but he fell short and lost a unanimous decision.
That loss to Covington started a run of fights where dos Anjos lost four of his last five fights.