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Paul Felder wants Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje next: ‘Those are the fights that turn me on’

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Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

Paul Felder wants to climb the lightweight ladder as quickly as possible, and he believes that bouts with either Dustin Poirier or Justin Gaethje would give him an opportunity to do so.

Coming off his split decision win over Edson Barboza at UFC 242, Felder discussed the various options he currently has in the division.

“Me and Al [Iaquinta] still have unfinished business, I love that guy, he’s awesome, but if he beats Dan Hooker, I think that’s a great matchup,” said Felder on the latest episode of MMA Fighting’s Eurobash podcast.

“Obviously, I want to fight Justin Gaethje some day, and I feel like he’s really deserving of a big fight moving forward. I’m not fighting (Donald) ‘Cowboy’ (Cerrone), so it’s very limited in terms of who is ahead of me, so we’ll see what happens from here. I don’t know, we’ll see. I’m curious to see what happens to be honest with you.”

With many 155ers throwing their name in the hat to become Conor McGregor’s next assignment, “The Irish Dragon” admits he would like the fight but stressed that he won’t beg for it.

“Fight [Conor McGregor]? I wouldn’t mind it,” Felder said. “I like making money – plus he’s up there. He’s got numbers next to his name that I want to take. If you wanna talk about that fight, you know it’s going to be goddam striking battle with me, and Conor is obviously not going to be trying to take me down either. But I’m also not one of those people that’s going to play his game and beg for something like that if I know that I’m not the guy that’s going to get it. I’m not going to go crazy trying to get it, but I would absolutely love to throw down with him.”

Felder outlined why Gaethje and Poirier are top of his list of potential future opponents.

“I would say Justin Gaethje or Dustin Poirier [are my ideal next opponents] – Dustin because he just fought for the belt,” Felder said. “If I can jump the line and skip ahead like that – I mean, sh*t. And he’s a great striker, a great boxer. That lends itself to the kind of fights that I’m used to being in and one that the fans want. Whatever happens, we’re probably getting a bonus. It would be one of those fights that goes back and forth. [It would come down to] who’s tougher and who can take the bigger shots, and those are the fights that turn me on.

“Justin is just a savage, man. Like I said, I don’t call this guy out because I have anything against him. You just saw what he did to one of my friends, ‘Cowboy.’ I would love to get in there and test myself, because I do feel that the guy is going to be fighting for a world title some day. These are the guys you have to beat. You have to beat the toughest guys out there, because if I can’t beat these guys, I’ll have no chance against Khabib – he’s able to out-wrestle everybody.”

Check out the latest episode of Eurobash. The Paul Felder interview begins at 54:00.