James Vick vs Paul Felder Preview
By Ben Jessop
UFC on ESPN 1 will be hosting a lightweight battle between James ‘The Texecutioner’ Vick and Paul ‘The Irish Dragon’ Felder, as the co-main event along with Francis Ngannou vs Cain Velasquez which will feature as the main event of the evening.
Despite these two fights, the card seems to be struggling to gain any traction within the MMA community but Vick vs Felder is something that takes my attention.
Vick comes into this fight off the back of his devastating 1st round KO loss to lightweight contender Justin Gaethje, and Felder also comes into this fight off the back of a loss to Mike Perry via split decision.
Gaethje had managed to put a stop to a four win fight streak with Vick having convincing wins over Abel Trujillo, Marco Polo Reyes, and Joseph Duffy in 2017 along with Francis Trinaldo in 2018. Two wins came via KO, along with one submission and one unanimous decision. With a complete record of 13-2, there is no denying Vick’s talent but his successes are sometimes overlooked in the insanely stacked lightweight division. It’ll take something special for Vick to be catapulted into the spotlight of the division and a convincing win over Paul Felder, although it won’t do it on its own, is definitely a strong leap forward.
Felder decided to move up to the welterweight division after three back to back wins in 2017, including one over Charles Oliveria, to fight Mike Perry. Felder didn’t quite manage to bring a win back from this bout but suffered a broken arm during the fight and completed some commentary for the UFC whilst recovering. Felder won the three prior wins all via KO/TKO using elbows which needs to be something Vick is cautious of. Felder will not shy away from engaging in a brawl should the fight move in that direction.
The obvious distinction to make when looking at these two fighters is the size difference. James Vick stands at 6ft3, with a 76in reach whilst Felder stands at 5ft11, with a 70in reach. It will be interesting to see how Felder manages this difference. If Vick masters his distance control he could take apart Felder whilst standing.
Felder is known for being somewhat reckless in the octagon, which is something he’s been working on controlling. Felder will have the opportunity to throw Vick off if he manages to mix calculated decisions as to when and where to strike, along with an unpredictable recklessness which leaves Vick wondering how to retake control of the fight.
Neither fighter can afford to take another loss, so it really is all to fight for. The limelight of the lightweight division only shines for the select few, and it’s becoming a smaller and smaller club – Both fighters want entry to the elite money fights and another loss is not going to help in their pursuit.
I’m confident this fight will be the saviour of this card. Personally, I predict Vick with a KO in the second.