Ahead of his rematch with Edson Barboza in the co-main event of UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, Paul Felder recalled a gruesome low shot he suffered in their initial 2015 meeting, which left “The Irish Dragon” urinating blood.
Felder and Barboza have worked together since their fight while they were both under the tutelage of celebrated coach Mark Henry. Despite the respect Felder has for the Brazilian, he’s adamant that he has been hungry to right the wrongs of their first clash in Chicago.
“I know and respect how good Edson is and I think that’s bringing the best out of me in this training camp,” Felder told MMA Fighting’s podcast. “I fought him and he beat me, the first loss of my professional career. I’m very excited and hungry to get it back… and nervous, but good nerves, it’s a very exciting fight for me and it excited me the first time.”
Although Felder believes their second meeting will deliver in the same way in terms of excitement, he believes he has dramatically changed as a fighter in the last four years.
“The only thing that I think remains the same is my toughness and my durability—I think that’s what I had and what got me through that fight with him,” said Felder. “My base skills were there, I was a powerful guy and a pretty decent striker. Since working with Duke, and even with my team in Philly, that’s got a lot better.”
“Duke [Roufus] is a mastermind,” he added. “I’ve just been adding more clinch and more takedowns and working with my jiu-jitsu coaches. I’m so much more well-rounded and so much more composed. I was so violent and aggressive when I first fought him, I was all balls and pressure. It was just get in there and scrap, now it’s the same mentality with more versatility.”
Recalling their first meeting, Felder revealed that one of Barboza’s signature spinning kicks that hit him low in the first round left him “sick to his stomach.”
“I’m not going to blame that on why I lost. You could, I guess, if you wanted to find a way out, but it didn’t help things, that’s for sure. I feel like I had pretty good momentum in that round and then I took that shot and I didn’t take a lot of time to recover, because that’s how it is when we’re in there,” said Felder.
“You’re under a lot of pressure in there; there’s the crowd and there’s the ref talking to you the whole time and your opponent is just standing on the other side of the Octagon. There are a lot of things pushing you to just continue the match. I did that and I’m sure it negatively affected me for sure. That had me sick to my stomach for a while there, I was peeing blood after the fight.”