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Paul Felder will ‘move on’ from Al Iaquinta if fight isn’t confirmed this month

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Paul Felder vs Charles Oliveira
Paul Felder vs Charles Oliveira
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

You could almost hear the collective sigh from the MMA fan base when Al Iaquinta withdrew from his UFC 218 clash with Paul Felder.

“The Irish Dragon” went on to collect his third consecutive win of the year against Charles Oliveira on the night, but it wasn’t enough to see him enter the UFC’s lightweight rankings.

Recently, Iaquinta has reignited hope that a fight between him and Felder can happen. On Friday, the Ray Longo product told MMAJunkie.com that he has set his price with the promotion, but has yet to hear anything back.

Based on what he has heard from Iaquinta, Felder doubts that the fight will come to fruition.

“I’d have to talk to (matchmaker) Sean (Shelby) and any time I talk to these guys they just don’t now what he (Iaquinta) wants to do,” Felder told MMA Fighting. “He’s asking for more money obviously, but he’s already in a bout agreement.

“The thing is, we all want more money. We’re all fighters and we all want to earn more money. He’s in the middle of a four-fight deal and we all know how that works. You usually fight three of those fights before you get an opportunity to negotiate a new contract, or you can fight your last one and see how it goes with free agency.

“I get where he’s coming from, but I think him asking for more money makes it very unlikely that the fight will happen.”

Although Felder believes that Iaquinta does want to fight him, he thinks he could be in danger of being held up as the New Yorker continues to negotiate with the UFC.

“I really think he is into the fight, I just don’t think UFC see at as an option any more because of the back and forth that’s happened. And that’s fine if he doesn’t want the fight. I can completely understand that,” said Felder.

“It does put me in this weird middle ground where I don’t know whether I should be seeking out a different opponent or what I should do.

“Unfortunately, the division is kind of messed up right now. The top of the division is all mixed up because of Conor (McGregor) – we don’t know when he’ll be back. Khabib (Nurmagomedov) just burst back onto the scene by destroying Edson Barboza and then you’ve got the situation with Dustin Poirier and Eddie Alvarez. Poirier wants Eddie, but Eddie wants someone else and is willing to wait. It’s all up in the air at the moment.

“At least we’ve got (James) Vick fighting (Francesco) Trinaldo, that’s sorting out things towards the back of the top 15. Then you’ve got Kevin Lee, I don’t know what’s going on with him. We haven’t heard what (Michael) Chiesa is doing either, so I’m just waiting to hear what’s next myself.”

Felder believes that his three consecutive stoppage wins over Alex Ricci, Steven Ray and Oliveira warrant a ranked opponent for his next outing. For that reason, he saw Iaquinta as an ideal dance partner.

“I’d like to get into those rankings. I’ve been fighting in the UFC for over three years now. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs in my career, but now I’ve finally hit a win streak and I feel like I’m being kept out of the rankings because of this mess,” he explained.

“There was a fight with a ranked opponent (Iaquinta) that I really wanted, but it fell through and I was denied that opportunity. I fought somebody that was only maybe one rank above me when I fought Charles Oliveira. As tough as he is, he’s had a lot of ups and downs too, so it wasn’t enough to catapult me into the top 15.

“Al was the kind of opponent I needed to get recognized in the rankings. It felt like a big fight on a big card but it just didn’t pan out. It’s the fight that I want. I think the fans wanted it and the UFC really wanted it.

“If they can work out things with Al I really think we could headline a smaller show or be a co-main. It could be a feature bout on a pay-per-view.

“Pay the guy. I was joking around and saying we should start a GoFundMe for him, but seriously, we need to make this fight happen.”

The surging lightweight claimed that he will be forced to pursue other fights if Iaquinta doesn’t sort out his discrepancies with the UFC before the end of the month.

“If we don’t hear something by the end of this month, it’s time to move on. If my manager calls before then and tells me that UFC have offered me another fight, I’ll probably go with that. I’ve got to fight so I’m definitely not going to wait around if these things continue to get dragged out.

“I have nothing against Al, but I just don’t want to play that waiting game. The thing is, he’s a ranked guy. If he continues to be inactive it takes an opportunity away from other fighters in the division. I’m more than happy to fight him but I think that ranking spot could be taken away if he stays on the sidelines.”

Having competed in Glasgow last year and wanting his next fight to take place in March or April, Felder says UFC Fight Night 127 in London is one of the options for his next visit to the Octagon if the UFC give him adequate notice.

“March or April is definitely when I want to get back in there. At the moment, the UFC hasn’t really booked all that much past March. There are a few events in March that could be options,” he said.

“I do love London. I’ve been in the UK a couple of times and it’s always been fun. I fought in Glasgow and that was a lot of fun. If the London fans can bring the same type of atmosphere that the Scottish fans did I would love to fight there.

“I’ve threatened to take a few days vacation after I fight over there, so maybe I could do that this time. I could spend a few days in London and then take another trip to Dublin.

“I’m definitely tempted by the London card, but the date has got to work out. I need enough time to get into camp so I’ll have to hear from the UFC soon if I’m going to fight on the London card.”