After losing its original main event at the last minute and being in serious jeopardy of cancellation UFC Fight Night 183/UFC on ESPN+ 14 is back on. It can be viewed on ESPN+ and is headlined by the newly formed match up of Paul Felder VS Rafael Dos Anjos. Taking place from the UFC’s Apex Center in Las Vegas, Nevada the event was originally scheduled for October 24th featuring UFC Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos vs Dagestani rising star Islam Makhachev. The matchup was then rescheduled for this Saturday, November 14th after RDA tested positive for COVID-19. The event met another setback when Makhachev was forced to drop out after his weight cut exacerbated a Staph infection that has plagued many of his teammates at the famous AKA gym, home to UFC legends Khabib Nurmagomedov and Daniel Cormier. In steps, UFC broadcaster Paul “The Irish Dragon” Felder on 5 days notice to take on Dos Anjos as a last-minute replacement. Felder was supposed to commentate the original matchup between Dos Anjos and Makhachev but is now taking off the headset on putting on the UFC gloves to save this event.
Felder is one of the most game fighters in the organization so his willingness to step in on 5 days notice comes as no surprise. His last short notice fight was a decision loss to Edson Barboza which he later avenged in a rematch. Felder spoke to ESPN’s Ariel Helwani about his decision to take the fight saying,
“I thought about it and I decided with everything going on in the world and all the sad things going on in people’s lives and losing their jobs and suffering, and we just lost Alex freaking Trebek to pancreatic cancer, I was like, ‘Man, you know you’re still 36. You’re young. You’re in shape. Save the day. Let’s go get paid. Let’s have fun. You’re fighting a legend. What do I have to lose?”
Felder is 2-2 in his last 4 fights all of which were decisions and 3 being split decisions. His last fight was a very close split decision loss to Dan Hooker. A fight many thought Felder won and which earned both fighters an extra 50 grand for Fight of The Night. Frustrated by coming out on the wrong end of the decision Felder hinted at retirement in his post-fight interview. It’s hard to tell which version of Felder will show up for this fight with it being on short notice and with Felder mulling over retirement.
It’s easy to sleep on former Lightweight Champ Rafael Dos Anjos and forget how good he is. He has struggled after a move up to Welterweight losing 4 of his last 5 in a division where he was noticeably undersized. RDA is looking to bounce back after being outclassed in his last two fights against much bigger opponents in Leon Edwards and Michael Chiesa. This will be RDA’s return to the Lightweight division that he briefly captured UFC gold in during his heyday. This fight taking place at 155 will have a huge impact being the division that many believe RDA truly belongs in and a 5-day weight cut being a significant challenge for Felder.
RDA was a sizeable +350 underdog in his original matchup with Makhachev. Now he opens as a -180 favorite against Felder’s +145 odds. UFC Fight Night 183 will be an interesting opportunity for bettors who will have to weigh RDA’s recent struggles against his advantages of moving back down to a more favorable weight class and facing an opponent who had to prepare for this fight on short notice.