Paul Felder has a knack for two things, commentating fights, and actually fighting. He seamlessly switches between the two as he grabs the mic one minute before picking up the gloves the next.
With commentary duties in the rear-view this week, Felder turns his attention to Edson Barboza, as he prepares to fight him in the co-main event of UFC 242 in Abu Dhabi.
While many suggest that commentary gigs can take away from a fighter’s ability to prepare for competition, Felder maintains that his commentary duties make him a better fighter.
“It keeps me motivated because I get to go and watch all these fighters live their dream,” Felder told Fight News Australia.
“I see the thrill and the agony first hand.
“I see people win a belt and achieve their dream and I see people lose and have to suffer, I see them having to deal with their family and deal with the consequences. It keeps me sharp.”
If watching the thrill and the agony of the fight game wasn’t enough to keep Felder sharp already, a rematch with Edson Barboza certainly is.
The two first fought in 2015, with Barboza handing Felder his first professional loss.
Barboza peppered Felder with his signature kicks in a contest that earned Fight of the Night honors. Despite the bonus, the pain from Barboza’s kicks is not something Felder wants to become any more familiar with.
“It sucks, it really sucks. I can tell you that getting kicked by Barboza does not feel nice,” Felder said.
“Having said that, I have experienced it.
“A lot of times that can catch you off guard, you can watch him kick all day on video and see his fight footage, but I’ve spared the guy, I’ve fought him in a 3-round fight.
I know what I am in for and what I need to prepare for. I know the pain that those kicks can inflict, so, I know what I got to do to stop them and hopefully I can do that.”
Without question, Barboza has one of the nastiest highlight reels ever compiled. His wheel kick knockout of Terry Etim will live in infamy as one of the most brutal finishes of all time.
He has finished several fighters with leg kicks and is the first fighter to stop Dan Hooker with strikes. The dangers posed by Barboza are what makes the fight so alluring for Felder.
“You start getting the butterflies more often thinking about that kind of stuff but I think that’s good,” Felder said.
“I think that keeps you more driven and makes you train harder in the gym because when you’re fighting someone who is just going to grapple you or be able to hold you down, there’s a little less fear involved.
“You don’t want to be a part of a guy’s highlight reel, the guy who is played over and over again.”
And while Felder ponders the dangers of fighting inside the Octagon, he finds himself missing the cushy side of being a commentator.
“Both jobs make you appreciate the other one even more,” Felder said.
“Right now, I’m just like how amazing would this place be if I was just here taking it in and doing the commentary.
“Instead, I’m suffering, cutting weight and suffering from jet lag.
“All this craziness to go and fistfight one of the most dangerous strikers in the world.
“But every time I end up winning a fight and doing my commentary, I miss fighting so bad so it makes me want to do the other job.”
And will Felder commentate at UFC 243 in Melbourne?
“I haven’t been offered that one yet, but if they do I would 100 percent grab that,” Felder said.
“I’m sure the ranked guys ahead of me will be snatching that Australia card up.
“That’s one I do not want to fight on, I want to do commentary in Australia because I want to be able to have fun and drink beer.”