Paul Felder discusses brain health concerns in MMA

#10 UFC lightweight Paul Felder is smart. He has a degree in theater arts, does expert commentary, and on Saturday he rematches Edson Barboza in the co-main event of UFC 242. One of those things is not like the others – getting hit in the head hard doesn’t make you smarter, as Felder is keenly aware.

“I want to get back into [acting] and I want to get back into it while I can still memorize lines,”  said Felder to Kevin Iole for Yahoo Sports. “If Edson Barboza hits me upside the head too much, I’m not going to be memorizing s***.”

“I see a lot of knockouts [in the broadcast booth]. I see a lot of guys’ heads bounce off the canvas, and it’s like, ‘Oh my God, man.’ When you see that from three feet, four feet, five feet away, depending upon where they land in that Octagon, you start to realize what we go through. It’s a young guy’s sport and you realize if you take too many of those, there’s no return. Seeing it over and over and over again makes me realize how brutal this sport is.

“Now, that being said, it’s one of the loves of my life. I love combat sports. I love martial arts. I just think guys need to be smart and get out at the right time.”

“I’m trying to [take steps to protect my brain health] because I have started to worry and think about that. I have a 4-year-old now. I don’t want major brain issues when I’m older. I don’t want to not know who she is. I want to watch her grow and be a part of her life and enjoy seeing her develop into the woman she’s going to become.

“Obviously, I’m in a sport where we punch each other in the face. I’m well aware that I’ve done some damage and I’ll do some damage. But as long as I can get in and get out and not drag it past the point of no return, I want to make my run at the title, make a lot of money and try to cement my legacy before I sail off into the sunset. I have two years, max, left, I believe.”