Edson Barboza and Paul Felder delivered an action-packed rematch Saturday in the UFC 242 co-main event that was just as competitive and exciting as their first fight, several years ago. After sharing the Octagon twice, the two elite lightweights are now even having each won once.
Paul Felder won a split decision after three bloody rounds in Abu Dhabi. Scores were 30-27, 29-28 and 28-29 for Felder.
After the win, Felder had praise for the Brazilian, who owns a 2015 decision win over him. “Edson is one of the biggest studs in this division,” Felder exclaimed, afterward.
“Can we give it up for Jr. Edson Barboza, this guy is a warrior.”
After lauding his rival, Felder warned other top-five 155 pounders. “All you top-five guys out there, you can’t run anymore,” he shouted.
“I’m only in here to be in here with the best.”
The first round was fought primarily on the feet and saw Barboza land with leg and body kicks and Felder connect with many punches to the head, thrown in combination. While pressing forward to clinch against the cage, Felder butted heads with Barboza and began bleeding from the face.
Felder asked referee Herb Dean to stop the fight so his cut could be checked and the official obliged. After the restart, Barboza continued to kick to the body, legs, and head, but Felder deftly blocked and continued stalking his opponent, pressuring him with footwork and volume punches.
The pair began the second stanza trading punches in the center of the cage and Barboza soon landed a spinning back-kick to the body. Barboza then dug in with a left shovel-hook to the body and a take down on Felder.
Felder fought gamely off of his back, however, throwing elbow strikes to the head and cutting Barboza’s face. Felder next attempted a straight armlock from the guard but was defended by Barboza.
In the third, Barboza landed a body kick and a counter let hook to the head, and scored a brief takedown at the end of the fight after which Felder popped right back up to his feet. Though everything in between was competitively fought, the round was clearly the American’s, as he continued his steady stalking pace and out-struck Barboza on the strength of punch combinations.
The loss was Barboza’s second-straight, and his record falls to 20-8. Felder has now won five out of his last six outings, and improves his record to 17-4.
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