Paul Felder is currently 10-0 in his professional mixed martial arts career and is 2-0 in the Ultimate Fighting Championship. He is up for Knockout of the Year with his spinning back fist knockout over Danny Castillo, but before he was winning fights in the UFC viciously, Felder was fighting for the Cage Fury Fighting Championships. The MMA Corner spoke with Felder about his career before and after his KO of the Year and the solid start to his UFC career.

“I started with Taekwondo and Karate and they were just not competitive enough,” Felder said.  “It was fun when I was a teenager, but when I got older I wanted to push myself a little further. I watched the Ultimate Fighter when I was in college and I started to question if I could do it, if they can do it, can I do it? So I started doing some more Muay Thai and very little Jiu Jitsu and I took my first amateur fight. After that I was hooked.”

Dec. 10, 2011 was Felder’s first professional fight and Felder talked about the fight for CFFC that resulted in a TKO victory.

“I remember telling all my friends and family, ‘Listen, I’m just going out there to have fun and just say I did it. Then I am done.’ I honestly never thought I would make a full career out of this. I was nervous as hell and did not know what to expect. I went in there and got cut early. It pissed me off and then I did what I usually do, I knocked him out. I knocked him out cold,” said Felder. “They took him off in a stretcher that night, he was fine, but I hit him with a flying knee and then some hard follow up shots.”

Felder is undefeated, 10-0, but it has not been a walk in the park for Felder in his professional MMA career. He has dealt with some adversity and some hard times that he elaborated on.

“The hardest part was financially for me and it makes you question MMA,” said Felder. “It is tough man. You have to train your ass off to be able to compete with the best guys and to be able to get to the UFC. There were a couple times where I talked to my parents and they said, “You need to get a job or something.” I felt bad asking them for money and I was living with my brother for a long time. I wasn’t able to pay him rent on time and there was about a year where it was rough, but I said screw it. I told them to give me a couple more fights.”

Those fights Felder asked for were in the CFFC where he fought for the lightweight title and then defended it. The fight where he defended his CFFC lightweight title was one to remember for many reasons. Felder threw a spinning heel kick that connected, and connect hard, to knockout his opponent and cement that he deserved to be in the UFC.

“That was my favorite kick when I was a little kid because it looked so cool. Jackie Chan and all them did it and it looked so badass. Whenever you watch The Ninja Turtles or any movies like that, someone always gets a spinning knockout. So to get one on a real human being was pretty awesome.”

For most fighters, getting the call from the UFC is an easy transition out of their previous promotion. But for Felder, it wasn’t as easy as some may think.

“I honestly think they are the best organization out there,” said Felder. “They could become even bigger than they are and people should really look out for them in the coming years. They helped me big time. They always took care of me and they treated me with respect. You feel like a real professional when you work with them.”

After his ridiculous spinning heel kick knockout, Felder got the call to the UFC to fight Jason Saggo on Oct. 4 of 2014. He also started to train in New Mexico with Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone. Felder talked about training with Cowboy and how much it has helped him.

“Training with Cowboy has helped me tremendously. Just his whole style and how he views the fight game, it inspires you to step up and not be afraid to take fights. He gives you the confidence to make you think you could be one of the top guys. He is the top guy in the lightweight division in my opinion and I think he will be the champion in no time. So training with whom I view as the top lightweight in the world, how could you not gain tons of confidence?”

With the addition of new training partners and new found motivation, Felder’s UFC debut against Jason Saggo, which he won by split decision, was more rewarding than he could have ever imagined.

“I was super pumped, but maybe even a little tired,” said Felder. “I got the call the next day after my crazy knockout for the CFFC, so I went right back into camp. I went out to New Mexico to train and then before I knew it I was in Canada about to make my debut. It all happened really fast. The emotions got to me a little bit right when I got in there. I thought I was relaxed and then the first round happened and we grappled a lot. I had a little bit of an adrenalin dump, but ended up winning the fight by split decision.”

After his first victory over Jason Saggo at UFC Fight Night 54, Felder then signed on to fight Danny Castillo. A fight that would put him on the map in the stacked 155-pound division.

“It came out of nowhere,” Felder admitted. “We were riding around in the van in New Mexico and I saw that Castillo was in need of an opponent. I jokingly asked Cowboy if I should try to get the fight, and anybody that knows Cowboy knows of course he said yeah, and he even called Dana White to make sure the fight got made. I was freaked out of my mind, but I had nothing to lose. Nobody thought I had a chance, but the people around me knew I had a chance and that Danny was in trouble.”

The fight with Castillo seemed to be the coming out party for him and his chance to show UFC fans that he means business. He ended the fight, with arguably the knockout of the year, by an amazing spinning back fist. Not only did the fans take notice of Felder, but also the UFC did when they set up his next fight with Jim Miller. Miller is one of the best lightweight fighters in the UFC and is a fighter that Felder is a fan of.

“Jim Miller is a guy that I have been watching for years,” Felder said. “I have been rooting for him for years. Anytime that he fought, I was on his side, so it is kind of funny to be on the other side of the octagon against him. That is how it works though, and I know it’s cliché, but to be the best you have to beat the best. I can’t wait to fight Jim and I think I am going to win.”

Miller and Felder fight April 18, 2015 on a fight card that should have fans excited. Felder talked about where his UFC career will go after a win against Jim Miler.

“With a win against Jim Miller, I want to fight someone in the top ten,” Felder said. “If I can beat Jim, I will hopefully be ranked in the top fifteen. There are so many badass lightweights out there, but whomever the UFC wants me to fight after I get through Jim, then lets do it.”

About The Author

Jeremy Klump
Interview Coordinator / Video Manager

Jeremy Klump is a Sport Media major at Ithaca College and has been writing about Mixed Martial Arts for over a year now. He interned at MVC Sports Management and AMA Fight Club. While interning at MVC and AMA, Jeremy found out that he had a true passion for writing about Mixed Martial Arts. He has interviewed and wrote articles on top UFC fighters while also having knowledge of regional fighters and the top new comers. He looks to grow as a writer and expand his knowledge of Mixed Martial Arts while being a proud member of The MMA Corner team.