Paul Felder has submitted his first USADA sample since retiring from the sport three years ago.
The last time fans saw ‘The Irish Dragon’ in action, it came against former UFC lightweight world champion Rafael dos Anjos in November 2020. In the time since Felder has focused on his career as a color commentator and analyst, but after watching The Korean Zombie’s last stand against Max Holloway in August, Felder admittedly got the itch to get back in the gym.
Shortly after, Felder revealed that he had re-entered the USADA testing pool, though made it clear that he was not committing to compete. He wasn’t simply keeping his options open.
“I have no idea,” Felder said of his MMA future during a UFC Fight Night broadcast in September. “I rolled with Michael (Chiesa) today. Honest to God, it blew up on social. I’m back training. I’m enjoying MMA again.
“For all the people that think I need a complete both hip replacements, I have bad hips, there’s no secret about that. I’ve had bad hips for years, but I am back in the USADA testing pool. That’s exactly where I’m at now, but that is it. That is it. I did it just in case. I’m getting old and there might be some old dudes out there that might want to dust it up in six months. Other than that, I have no idea. I’m enjoying training.”
Paul Felder is ‘By No Means’ promising a return to the Octagon
Per an update on the USADA website, which was confirmed by ESPN, Paul Felder has submitted his first sample since jumping back into the testing pool, though he “by no means” promised a return, noting that his re-entry was more of a “just in case” an opportunity arises.
Felder’s re-entry comes at a time of transition for the promotion. Last month, USADA CEO Travis Tygart revealed that the UFC would no longer partner with the anti-doping agency, ending their eight-year relationship in favor of an in-house system for testing athletes. Under USADA, ‘The Irish Dragon’ would be subject to a required six months of pre-fight screening, but once their agreement expires on January 1, 2024, all bets are off.
Under the new protocols, which have yet to be revealed, Fedler and other fighters currently waiting out their six month testing period, like Conor McGregor, could potentially return to the Octagon immediately in the new year.