From UFC to 70.3: Paul Felder to learn from Lionel at Oceanside

MMA meets triathlon this weekend as Paul Felder continues his swim/bike/run journey

News Director
Last updated -

Former UFC star Paul Felder will look to learn from friend Lionel Sanders when he continues his triathlon journey at IRONMAN 70.3 Oceanside on Saturday.

The 37-year-old retired MMA ace, now a colour commentator for UFC, raced a number of times over the 70.3 distance in 2021 after first becoming fascinated by the sport through Sanders and his epic story.

In 2022 the main date on Felder’s swim/bike/run calendar is the IRONMAN 70.3 World Championship at St George in October. First though he kicks off his year in California, and he’ll use race week to observe how the pros behave by shadowing ‘No Limits’.

Paul Felder on Oceanside

He appeared on one of Lionel’s famous race week videos to talk about his relatively new pursuit, admitting: “A little bit nervous. This is the first race that there’s been a pro field also racing at the same time as the age groupers and stuff. I haven’t been a part of one of those yet.

“I’m very excited about that but also you feel everybody’s game is gonna be elevated quite a bit, even down to the age groupers, when those pros are there starting things off.

“You want to kind of put your best foot forward – so, anxious. It’s the first ocean swim, so a little nervous.”

Felder, who was known as ‘The Irish Dragon’ during a UFC career which brought him a 17-6 record in the Octagon, says he is in the shape of his life as he prepares for the big race on Saturday.


‘The Irish Dragon’ definitely ready

“I’m definitely ready, I’m in shape – this is by far the fittest that I’ve ever been, even probably if you calculate getting ready for fights. It’s definitely a different fitness but think I’m the most in shape I’ve ever been in.

“My running’s on point, my biking’s on point, the swimming is coming along nicely – but definitely ready.”

Felder, who was speaking ahead of travelling to California, cannot wait to watch Sanders up close to learn from how an elite professional prepares for a big race.

“I think being able to see a guy who’s at the top of the sport the way Lionel is is gonna help – I’m gonna learn a lot and that’s what I’m looking forward to,” explained Felder.


Learning from Lionel

“It’s the first race of the season for all of us. He’s got a lot more on the line because he’s a professional obviously – he’s got the PTO rankings and all that kind of stuff that he’s worried about, and making money.

“Whereas for me I want to do the best that I’ve done yet. It’s still early in the season and I’ve still got the Championship in St George in October. So really I just want to go and enjoy this one and have fun and learn a lot from all of these guys. But more in particular from Lionel than anybody.

“I’m gonna be in the same hotel, so I’m gonna kind of see how the best in the world handles race week and I’ve got a lot of questions coming for the guys.”

No fights this weekend

Felder is happy to give MMA fan Lionel some fighting tips in the future, but he is disappointed there will be no bouts for them to watch together this weekend.

“He (Lionel) knows he doesn’t want to spar on race week – we’ll have to do that another time. I’m definitely gonna show him some things.

“It’s a shame it’s a weekend where there’s no fights – it works out so I don’t have to work and I get to be there racing in Oceanside.

“But It would have been cool if there was also a fight night on Saturday because we race on Saturday. Normally we’re all waking up 3.30, 4 in the morning on Sunday to go to the start. Whereas this one, we could have raced, crushed ourselves and then been able to enjoy some food and watched some fights. But of course, UFC, is off this weekend so that sucks.

“That would have been pretty cool to actually watch a fight with him and spill my knowledge after he’s spent a couple of days holding my hand through a race week.”

Jonathan Turner
Written by
Jonathan Turner
Jonathan Turner is News Director for both TRI247 and RUN247, and is accustomed to big-name interviews, breaking news stories and providing unrivalled coverage for endurance sports.  
Discover more
T100 Singapore Age Group bike course
Ultimate sightseeing – the must-do city centre triathlons
TRI-FIT Geo Coral women's tri suit
TRI-FIT GEO Women’s Tri Suit Review – How does it fare in our quest for the ultimate long course kit?
Jonny Brownlee swim pool neom 2022 Photo Bartlomiej Zborowski Superleague Triathlon
Jonny Brownlee on the pool swimming drills to do now to get faster in open water
sebastien kienle at challenge st polten
Let’s race… Challenge St Pölten
Fanni Szalai Arena Games Sursee 2023 photo credit Darren Wheeler That Cameraman SLT
supertri E next gen talent – meet the 6 future superstars to watch in London
latest News
The men's podium from the 2024 supertri E World Triathlon Championships.
Chase McQueen looking to keep the ball rolling after winning world championship title in London
Alistair Brownlee run Singapore T100 2024 photo credit PTO
‘Mindset of a champion’ – Frodeno on Brownlee’s reaction to penalty in Singapore
Youri Keulen on floor finish line Singapore t100 2024 photo credit PTO
Singapore T100 Triathlon World Tour results: Full finishing order after Keulen win and Brownlee DNF
The women's podium at the 2024 supertri E World Triathlon Championships in London.
Beth Potter takes BIG boost after holding off Olympic Games rival in London world championship win
Sam Long fist bumps after taking second at the Miami T100
Sam Long relishing racing after spectacular second place finish at Singapore T100
triathlon on your terms
Never miss out with our triathlon alerts & digest. Get a dose of adventure & inspiration with Boundless.
Invalid email address
The SBRX Group

Proudly elevating endurance sports through content, products & services

Share to...