If you don’t have an answer for leg kicks early, you’re probably going to be hurting late.
In case you forgot that bit of MMA truism, Paul Felder put on a refresher course on the importance of this bit of strategy in his UFC Phoenix co-main event bout against James Vick.
Felder chopped down his taller, lankier foe, and you could see Vick slow down in real time. That was enough to give the popular fighter/commentator a unanimous decision Sunday night. The judges’ scores were 29-28, 30-27, and 30-27.
The first round was close, as Vick use front kicks to set up single punches, some of which landed solid. Felder, for his part, started his calf-kick assault, and just missed on a pair of spinning back fists. The second one, in the round’s closing seconds, was followed by a nasty left hand which wobbled Vick, which likely swung the round in Felder’s favor on the cards.
Vick had his best round in the second, as he snapped Felder’s head back with a big right hand and got the better of clinch exchanges. However, Felder continued to punish Vick with his low kicks, and toward the end of the round, they began to noticeably register as Vick was forced to switch stances.
Felder finished strong in the third, as his kicks left Vick visibly limping. Not only did Felder land with left hands and right when he initiated the offense, but he also answered with counters whenever Vick tried to get his striking untracked.
With the win, Felder, (16-4) has now won four in a row at lightweight. But that comes after breaking his arm in a welterweight loss against Mike Perry, and also after the death of his father, so Felder was emotional in his post-fight interview.
“It’s been a long layoff I broke my arm,” Felder said. “I lost my dad last year, this is for my mom, mom, I one this one for you, I love you so much.”
Vick (13-3) has now dropped two in a row.