Paul Felder will look to avenge his first career loss when he rematches Edson Barboza next month at UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi, and he is eager to show the development of his MMA skill set in the four years since their first meeting.
Felder and Barboza previously met at UFC on Fox 16 in July of 2015, where the Brazilian put on a striking clinic to win via unanimous decision. On a recent episode of the Eurobash podcast, Felder said he still felt relatively raw when he first fought Barboza. Four years and nine professional fights later, under the tutelage of head coach Duke Roufus at Roufusport, “The Irish Dragon” believes he has fine-tuned his skills to give the Brazilian a real test (transcription via MMA Fighting):
“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 [Roufus], and even with my team in Philly, that’s got a lot better.”
Felder credited his vast improvements to Roufus, who has worked on all aspects of his game, and believes the work undertaken at Roufusport gym has given him more weapons at his disposal to use in a fight.
“Duke is a mastermind,” he said. “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.”
In the first fight, Felder was on the receiving end of some trademark Barboza leg kicks and said one of the kicks caught him low and as a result he actually urinated blood after the fight:
“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.
“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.”
UFC 242 takes place on Sept. 7 and is headlined by a lightweight unification bout between undefeated champion Khabib Nurmagomedov and interim champ Dustin Poirier.