American Paul Felder is expecting the worst from a partisan Auckland crowd at Spark Arena on Sunday as he faces up to New Zealander Dan Hooker in UFC Fight Night 168.
However, while he is happy to cast himself in the role of the villain in Hooker's big afternoon of headlining a UFC event for the first time, he also did an excellent job of selling himself as an engaging and eloquent speaker at today's media event.
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The 35-year-old talked about the possibility of getting into broadcast work when his fighting career is over and it's easy to see and hear why; the man from Philadelphia is the equivalent of a steel fist in a velvet glove, whereas the hometown hero is a little rougher around the edges.
Wearing a flat cap which covered his cropped hair, Felder faced off against the 30-year-old Hooker and laughed off his opponent's attempts to unsettle him at the end.
Of all the fighters on the card, Felder and Hooker were the only ones who didn't shake hands. The bad blood between the pair appears real, but Felder believes Hooker's willingness to go on with it could backfire.
Asked whether he has got under Hooker's skin, Felder replied: "Apparently. I mean, clearly, right? I think I am under his skin if I'm bothering him. What did he do, did he stick his tongue out at me when I walked off the stage, took a video or something, just now?
"This was more peaceful today than in the past. I feel like we both know what's imminent. It's right now. It's not three months ago. There doesn't need to be anything else said now. The trash talk is done. Whether I'm under his skin, it's done, we're fighting on Sunday."
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Holding on to that energy could tire Hooker, Felder believes. "I think it depends on how he handles that because the pressure is on him. It's his city and if he's also annoyed and agitated, that kind of tension in a 25-minute fight can be hard to sustain, whereas I'm trying to come in and enjoy myself."
Felder, ranked as the organisation's 6th best lightweight – Hooker is ranked 7th - spoke too about last Friday's official welcome at the powhiri at Orakei Marae where the pair met and shared a hongi, a far cry from their original ice-cold staredown of a few months earlier.
"That was kind of eye-opening and a lot of fun to be a part of that," Felder said. "I got to pick up the branch and hold it up and be challenged by the warriors checking if I'm here in peace, checking my intentions ... all the stuff with their ancestors ... and I had my dad's ashes in a necklace around my neck with me the whole time.
"It's just about making this weight now and putting on a show ... I'm truly taking it in every day and enjoying every moment.
"I expect the worst," he said of Sunday's crowd, "and what I mean by that is the most negative energy possible and if it's different then that's great. There's just going to be energy out there man, I know they're going to be insane for Dan."