Paul Felder will look to avenge his first career loss to Edson Barboza in their co-main event at UFC 242 - a bout that also offers an opportunity to show how much he's evolved since their last meeting.
"I think it's going to be another 'Fight of the Night,' to be honest," Felder told theScore. "I think he's a very durable guy unless one of us can catch each other on the chin early. I think you're going to see a more polished version of myself, though, going into there. A much more calculated version, a little less angry, (not) doing the stupid things I thought was cool back four years ago when I fought him the first time."
Felder (16-4) had a 10-fight win streak snapped when he suffered his first career loss to Barboza at UFC on FOX 16 in July 2015. After two more setbacks in the Octagon, "The Irish Dragon" moved his training camp to Roufusport and has gone on a 4-1 run.
Barboza (20-7) also recently switched training camps, moving to American Top Team. However, he's coming off a TKO loss to Justin Gaethje at UFC on ESPN 2 in March. Even though Barboza has lost three of his last four fights, Felder believes a win over the 33-year-old would land him a top-five opponent in the lightweight division.
"I think he's one of those guys, even if he's coming off a few losses, it doesn't matter," Felder explained. "I feel like if I get past Edson, especially coming off a loss with him four years ago, I think that puts me in line to get a top-five opponent. If it's exciting, I think it gives me a reason to really call out the (Justin) Gaethjes, the (Tony) Fergusons. Whoever's not fighting for the belt and coming off losses in the top five, I feel like that's who I'll be getting next if I win."
UFC 242 takes place Sept. 7 at du Arena in Abu Dhabi. Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov seeks to unify his title against interim champion Dustin Poirier in the main event.
Watch the full interview with Felder below and subscribe to theScoreMMA YouTube channel here.