Paul Felder thinks a fighter’s schedule and activity or lack thereof should play a bigger part in MMA rankings.This past month, Felder (14-3 MMA, 6-3 UFC), a veteran UFC lightweight who also called the action as part of this past weekend’s UFC Fight Night 120 coverage, lost his original UFC 218 opponent, Al Iaquinta (13-3-1 MMA, 8-2 UFC), who was replaced by Charles Oliveira (22-7 MMA, 10-7 UFC).The fight takes place Dec. 2 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, and it closes out the FS1-televised prelims that precede the night’s pay-per-view main card. It’s a high-profile slot for Felder, but with the loss of Iaquinta, he thinks he’s also losing an opportunity.Felder, who’s on a 4-1 run following recent knockout wins over Alessandro Ricci and Stevie Ray, isn’t ranked in the USA TODAY Sports/MMAjunkie MMA lightweight rankings, nor is he in the top 15 on the official list. Neither is Oliveira. However, Iaquinta, who’s fought just once since April 2015 (a knockout win over Diego Sanchez), is on both lists: No. 14 and No. 10, respectively.
“I was really pissed,” Felder told MMAjunkie prior to the release of this week’s updated rankings. “Iaquinta’s No. 11 (on the list), and he’s been sitting at the top of that division for a while, and who have you beaten recently to be holding that spot? There’s a whole bunch of us busting our asses to fight guys to get that number next to our names.
“I think he either needs to (expletive) or get off the pot. Hang up the gloves and sell real estate, or fight.”
Felder has won “Performance of the Night” bonuses in his two recent wins, but the 33-year-old knows that winning impressively is only part of the equation; he also likely needs to beat ranked opposition to climb the ranks himself. That knowledge is at the center of his frustration with Iaquinta, who had a lengthy contract dispute with the UFC before his return to the cage in April.
“I still don’t know all the details about what he even hurt,” Felder said. “At first I thought he was playing games again and pulled out. Does anybody know what’s hurt? Nobody has. I don’t know if it’s true or not. If he’s really hurt, then obviously I’ll eat my word. But come on, man. I don’t see him training or anything. There’s no posts. It sucks.
“But hey, Charles Oliveira, I’ve been watching him forever. He’s back at lightweight, and it’s a dangerous fight. Beating a guy like him gets me closer to the top 15, if not in there.”
So, for now, Felder remains focused on the silver lining. Oliveira is a solid opponent, and it’s also brought a new dynamic to Felder’s training camp and also a possible threat.
“His standup is very traditional Brazilian muay Thai,” Felder said of Oliveira. “That’s been more fun to train for that style. As far as the standup portion of training camp, that’s been more exciting. Obviously the grappling got more intense.
“(But) the only way I plan on going to the ground is putting him on his ass and hitting him.”For more onUFC 218, check out theUFC Rumors section of the site.