Paul Felder started strong but the first round felt fairly even. Felder got a little more offense in, with Hooker letting his hand down while Felder measured his reach and landed successfully.
The second showed that Hooker had superior reach, but Felder appeared to be landing the cleaner shots. Either way, the aggression on both sides picked up during round 2 and both men landed good shots on each other.
Round three started with Hooker finding some patterns, but Felder relying on quick and efficient striking. Hooker landed some solid counter strikes and Felder's face started changing color. As the round came to a close, Felder had a level change, only to be pressed up against the fence. The round ended with strikes from the clinch.
Felder had a more comfortable start to round 4 - unfamiliar territory for both men. Felder landed a clean shot to the jaw and Hooker went for the takedown, only for Felder to defend it.
The fifth and final round saw Hooker get backed up a bit, with the Irish Dragon doing the forward charging. A level change saw Dan Hooker get Felder's back but he pulled him to the fence, allowing him to change positions and break. With one minute left, Hooker landed a takedown.
An incredible scramble saw Hooker nearly get Felder's neck but the finish didn't come. The question at this time was as to whether the takedown did enough to win the round. With the striking not being able to differentiate the two, there were a lot of questions before the decision
And as it turns out, it was enough. The split decision was perhaps the right call since it was too close to call. The emotions were high during the fight and after it and Felder had an eye entirely shut. He announced that "it might be it" for him. If it is so, then we have nothing but respect for his incredible career.
As for Hooker, he called out Justin Gaethje after the fight.Published 23 Feb 2020, 08:50 IST