At 31 years old, Paul Felder knows he still has time to try and make a run in the lightweight division.
To do so, he needed the win he got Sunday night over Daron Cruickshank at UFC Fight Night 81, securing his first career submission victory in the process.
After a pair of back-and-forth rounds, Felder (11-2) secured a deep rear-naked choke in the third, getting back on track after decision defeats to Ross Pearson and Edson Barboza.
“Unbelievable,” he said of the win. “I was fighting two studs (Pearson and Barboza) and was right there. But I needed this one.
“Daron is a tough S.O.B. It gave it to me.”
Felder, who trains out of the Renzo Gracie Academy, opened his UFC career in 2014 with wins over Jason Saggo and Danny Castillo. The Castillo victory, a spinning back-fist knockout, earned him “Performance of the Night” honors.
But a decision loss – albeit a “Fight of the Night” – with Barboza was followed up by a split decision with Pearson last September.
“I was getting takedowns and feeling him get tired,” he said. “I knew I could go all three rounds. (With the submission) I felt him. He started fighting so I just went hand-behind-head and though he can slam me all he wants, but he’s going out.”