UFC Fight Night 105 (February 19 2017)
Alessandro Ricci Vs Paul Felder
Winner – Paul Felder Via Round 1 TKO
UFC 223 is a phenomenal card and possibly the best the sport has produced since last year’s UFC 217.
For a fighter competing on such a deep card, it is going to be difficult to stand out when the night is done. That is unless you are Paul Felder and Al Iaquinta.
Paul Felder Vs Al Iaquinta is one of those fights that can not disappoint – regardless of how it plays out or who walks away victorious. The dynamic between these guys, in both fighting style and personality, is going to make every nail-biting second of this fight enjoyable.
This is a fight between polar opposites. On one hand, you have the UFC employee and company man Paul Felder. Paul is a promoters dream, he manages to fight consistently three times a year without fail, putting on a show every time. He is (seemingly) easy to deal with and willing to champion the company on a regular basis through his tremendous work as one of their colour commentators.
On the flip side, we have Ragin’ Al. In recent years Al Iaquinta has become one of the loudest spoken critics of the UFC to the point that he has become an ongoing meme amongst fans. Al’s contract disputes along with some injuries have caused him to fight a mere three times during the same period in which Paul Felder has managed to fight nine times. Ragin’ Al’s unapologetic temper and continued renegade attitude has garnered him respect and adoration from seemingly everyone but the UFC.
This conflicting dynamic between these two doesn’t end with their willingness to tow the company line. The pair are on opposing sides of an equally compelling stylistic choice in the cage. Although both men are striking based fighters with a proclivity for issuing plenty of damage, they fall on opposite ends of an issue that plagues many fighters.
For Paul Felder the issue has been his overabundance of tools. When Paul first began his UFC career, we saw him throw everything and then some at his opponent in an effort to create as much damage and pain as possible. This tendency mixed with his unwavering inner fire (lack of control) is largely why we saw him fall short in his close decision losses to Edson Barboza and even more so Ross Pearson.
On the flip side, Al Iaquinta finds himself facing this issue in reverse, in that he largely relies on a single weapon – his right hand – to do most of his best work. Although he edged a questionable decision against Jorge Masvidal in his second most recent fight (2015). The fight showcased the possible downfalls in his game if he is unable to land the right hand.
The deciding factor in this fight may very well come down to who has improved upon their striking tendencies most effectively. From what we have seen in the cage, Paul Felder has by far made the greater improvements. He is currently on a three-fight winning streak, all of which he won by TKO with elbows. During this run, Felder has fought using a far more conservative thus refined striking arsenal, leading to him leaving fewer openings for his opponent and creating more opportunities for himself to capitalise on.
The main issue in relying on in-cage performances to judge this fight is that Al Iaquinta has barely had any. For all we know, Al could have conceivably improved and sharpened his game to an unforeseen level in the time that he has not faced a top-level opponent. It is expected that we will see the best version of Ragin’ Al possible, the question is what will that look like. For that reason alone this fight is largely a 50/50 matchup.
This is going to be a phenomenal fight and will surely feature the best that both guys have to offer. I can not wait.