Retired since 2021, Felder spent the past two years serving as a color commentator for the UFC broadcast team, while also engaging in triathlons and dabbling in acting whenever time permits. But after watching “The Korean Zombie” Chan Sung Jung walk out for his final fight this past August, Felder became inspired to consider a return to action.
He reentered the UFC’s anti-doping program in August, which requires six months of testing before a retired athlete can compete again, but Felder made it clear that no final decision has been made. It turns out a chance to face a legend like Miller at the historic card in April might just be what Felder needed to convince him to fight again.
“Anybody that knows me or talked to me knew that Jim was the name,” Felder explained after UFC Vegas 84. “If I’m going to do it, I want it to be against a guy like Jim. Somebody that’s around my age, that’s been in the game for a long time. I’m not trying to come back and make a run for the belt or anything like that.”
Felder says he was already hearing calls for the fight with Miller at UFC 300 before the broadcast team sat down to chat with the athletes ahead of Saturday’s event.
Miller submitting Gabriel Benitez and then mentioning Felder as one of his ideal opponents for April during his post-fight interview was the perfect bait to potentially get the Philadelphia native on board for an official comeback.
“If you call me out, Jim, it’s something that I’d be interested in doing,” Felder revealed. “He’s like, ‘If you get me a job sitting next to you at the desk, we’ll make it a deal.’ I think they’ll at least be calling him for an audition coming up soon. When he said that, it’s like, f***, now he’s setting me up, all the things that I said, ‘Well, if he does this, this happens, I’d be interested in doing it.’ I’ve got to get back in the gym and see how things feel.
“That’s why it’s so tough and so tempting and leaning towards wanting to do it. Because it’s — as he wants to be called at UFC 300 — Jim f****** Miller. He’s awesome. He fights awesome. I get to see that fight right in front of my eyes where it’s a leg kick battle, a standup battle primarily. Obviously he finished him on the ground as Jim can do, but if it’s going to be a fight like that, then I think the fans would eat it up. Because you know I’m not shooting any takedowns in there, especially against Jim. I’m not putting my neck on the line like that. It would definitely be a fun fight.”
Of course, Felder wanting the fight and Miller calling for it still doesn’t mean it will happen.
Felder knows that ultimately the decision falls on the UFC, and he’s not certain that the powers that be within the promotion will sign off on the matchup. Miller also named UFC welterweight knockout king Matt Brown as another possible opponent, so Felder may not even get the offer.
“It’s also up to the UFC, too, right? I obviously haven’t pressed the issue,” Felder said. “Sean [Shelby] knew that he wanted to test me out to see if I was being flaky, and I’ve done it in the past where I’m like, ‘I’m coming back! I’m going to make a run for it,’ and do all this and then I just don’t.
“I’ve got to see are they even interested in that fight happening. But to do it on a legendary card like that would be incredible.”
Despite not fighting for over two years, Felder still trains regularly and he’s also gotten involved in endurance sports like marathon racing, triathlons, and Iron Man competitions. He promises he’s in the best shape in his life right now, but those sports aren’t MMA.
For now, Felder will discuss his possible comeback with his wife and his family along with getting back in the gym, while awaiting word from the UFC.
If that call never comes or Felder ultimately decides that he’s just better off retired rather than coming back for another fight, he can’t say that there would be much disappointment. He knows from his own experiences as well as watching and calling fights from cageside that MMA is a brutal, relentless sport that offers no apologies whatsoever.
“Everyone keeps saying, ‘You’re going to regret it if you don’t do it.’ I’m like, I don’t know if that’s true,” Felder said. “Fighting’s hard. It’s hard on the body. It’s hard emotionally. It’s stressful. It’s scary. I’m not jumping back into it and now that I broadcast, I see it all the time. I see how people are weight cutting. I see how people are fight week, the anxiety, the highs and the lows.
“We’re celebrating [Magomed] Ankalaev, but Johnny Walker’s in the back with his nose twisted on the other side of his face. There’s a winner and a loser most times. I don’t think so. If I decide it’s not right, I might look back and think, ‘I should have done it,’ but I won’t hate myself.”