Paul Felder returned to the lightweight division on Sunday in the UFC on ESPN 1 co-main event taking on No. 10 ranked James Vick. Both fighters were coming off loses in their last outings and entered the fight with hopes of rebounding.
In the opening round, Vick was doing well using his reach to keep Felder at distance. The fight was playing out in Vick’s range until the final minute of the frame. During an exchange, Felder landed a spinning back fist followed by a right hand that staggered Vick. Felder moved in with a left hand but Vick tied him up and hung on until the end of the round.
Felder continually targeted Vick’s lead leg with kicks in the first round and used the same strategy in the second frame. The kicks to the calf caused Vick to change stances. The two engaged in back and forth exchanges that had the crowd inside Talking Stick Resort Arena on their feet.
With Vick’s mobility compromised, Felder connected with heavy shots in the final round. The leg kicks were taking their toll and had Vick limping and constantly changing stances. A left hook midway through the frame wobbled Vick. Vick recovered and returned fire but wasn’t able to do enough to get the nod from the judges. Felder was awarded a unanimous decision with the scorecards reading 29-28, 30-27, and 30-27.
With the win, Felder will likely return to the lightweight rankings. His last fight was in July in the welterweight division. After dedicating the win to his mother and daughter, Felder put the lightweight division on notice.
“It’s been a long layoff. I broke my arm. I lost my father last year. This one was for my daughter and my mom,” said Felder after the win.
“I felt good. I was told in the fighter meetings this week that I’m not intelligent enough and I’m not well-rounded enough to win a decision.
“155, you better look out because no matter how you want to get it you’re going to get it whether it’s a decision or whether I knock you out in front of all these people. The Iris Dragon is coming for you!”