UFC Auckland: Paul Felder Has Sights Set on The “Top Dogs” if he Wins Tonight
Paul Felder has a tough test ahead of him today at UFC Auckland. But, if "The Irish Dragon" gets by Dan Hooker, it sounds like he's going to be holding out for a top five ranked fighter next.
Paul Felder has worked his way to the #6 ranking in the UFC’s lightweight division. So, if the punishing striker defeats Dan Hooker tonight at UFC Auckland, it doesn’t look like he’ll be down to fight a lower ranked opponent.
Felder is targeting the division’s “top dogs”
Although both Hooker (19-8) and Felder (17-4) have incurred losses in their last three bouts, both men have been on pretty impressive runs in recent years. Since 2016, Felder has gone 5-1 and his only loss during that time came via split decision to welterweight Mike Perry in 2018.
Hooker, meanwhile, has gone 6-1 since 2016 and his only defeat during that run came against Edson Barboza. Felder, however, defeated Barboza by split decision in his last bout, which went down in September.
Well, due to all of the above, Felder is ranked #6 right now and Hooker is #7. So, the winner of their bout tonight could move into the top five of the lightweight division and the title shot mix. As a result, recently Felder told MMA Fighting this:
“At this point in my career, this will be my 14th or 15th UFC fight, I’m on a good win streak, (and) Dan’s on a good win streak,” Felder said. “The winner of this fight is definitely going to move up and be guaranteed a fight against one of the top dogs in the top-five in this division. That’s what I need.
“Otherwise, like I’ve said many times, that’s the only reason I want to be in this sport anymore. I’m not in the sport because I absolutely have to make the money. I’m in this sport to be one of the best guys in the world. This fight gives me that opportunity.”
“…If I can pull off the win, especially if I do it impressively or get past a tough opponent like Dan, I’m not going to fight the No. 15 guy,” Felder said. “Not that I don’t have respect for the rest of the division, but if I win in Auckland, I’ll sit out and wait for a big fight and just stay training and stay healthy and stay commentating until that opportunity arises.
You can’t fault Felder for the comments above. Hooker has scored some very, impressive wins recently, so if Felder does win, you can understand why he wants to face top tier contender next. Looking at the rankings, you have to wonder if the winner of tonight’s bout, providing it’s a clear cut win, will move past Donald Cerrone. “Cowboy” is currently ranked #5.
Who knows, maybe the winner will be booked to fight Cerrone next? Or possibly Dustin Poirier?