LAS VEGAS — Fighters like Paul Felder are one of the many reasons why mixed martial arts continues to surge in popularity. Felder was scheduled to work the ESPN+ broadcast of the card Saturday (7 p.m. ET, ESPN+) at Apex, but instead is going to fight in the main event.
When Islam Makhachev withdrew from the main event against Rafael dos Anjos, Felder accepted the fight on Monday to save the show.
It’s a significant fight for him, because he’s nearing the end of his career and still has dreams of winning the UFC’s lightweight championship. Beating a former champion like dos Anjos would be a big step toward that goal, but the wisdom of taking the fight on five days’ notice is easily questioned.
Even Felder admitted he had his doubts when it first came up on Sunday.
Dos Anjos is a complete fighter, but his wrestling and takedowns would seem to be the biggest issue for Felder, who lost an agonizingly close split decision to Dan Hooker in his last outing in February.
A second consecutive loss would probably spell doom for Felder’s title hopes, because he’d drop in the rankings and there would be too many guys to climb in the short time he’s got left in the sport.
Felder has worked hard on his defensive wrestling, which had been a weakness. If he’s able to keep the fight standing, his chances of winning increase exponentially.
At the MGM Grand Sports Book, dos Anjos is slightly better than a 9-5 favorite at -185. Felder is a +155 underdog.
He’s worth a play at that price, so I’m going to lay $100 to try to win $155 with a Felder victory. I think Felder’s Muay Thai game will be able to carry him to a tight victory.
This fight is going to be extremely close, but Felder is too good to pass up at that price.
Best bets for UFC Vegas 14: Felder vs. dos Anjos
I like Kay Hansen at -225 to defeat Cory McKenna.
I like Hansen at +290 at BetMGM New Jersey to win by KO/TKO/DQ or submission. I think Hansen is going to win by submission, so I like getting nearly 3-1 for it.
I will lay the $245 and hope to win $100 on Abdul Razak Alhassan to win over Khaos Williams.
I will take Rhys McKee to win at +160 over Alex Morono.
I will take McKee by decision at +600 at BetMGM New Jersey.
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