A post shared by Frankie Edgar (@frankieedgar) on Jul 5, 2019 at 3:41pm PDT
UFC 240 is headlined by two of the UFC’s most notable figures in featherweight champion Max Holloway, and former lightweight champion Frankie Edgar. The odds would suggest this is a rather lopsided fight in favor of the champion, and while it will nothing short of an uphill climb for the former lightweight champ, the fight is more competitive than it’s suggested on paper.
I know how this story goes with @rushminiblessed all too well. He watches from his little corner while dancing and plotting. Plotting to figure out how he is gonna steal the show as always. I am grateful to have him with me on this journey. Even more grateful to show him first hand that with hard work you can achieve anything. #miniblessedera
A post shared by Max Holloway (@blessedmma) on Jul 24, 2019 at 7:47pm PDT
The UFC’s current featherweight king has one of the most impressive UFC resumés of all-time. Holloway currently rides a 13-fight winning streak at 145 and is very possibly the greatest featherweight mixed martial artist of all-time. Holloway is about as well-rounded a fighter as they come, but what makes him so dangerous and such an enigma in the Octagon is his constant pressure and volume. Combine that with his height, athleticism, and ability to keep the fight at his desired distance, and Holloway has created an image for himself as a seemingly unstoppable force since his reign as champion began. Despite this, Holloway is coming off of a loss in his last fight, a decision against Dustin Poirier for the interim UFC lightweight championship, now, of course, a status held by Poirier. While that fight, as previously mentioned, took place at lightweight and unaffected his featherweight reign or legacy, it was his first loss since 2013, when he lost to Conor McGregor by decision. As interesting as this fight will be from a skill perspective, it’s almost more intriguing to see how Holloway responds after his first loss in nearly six years. Will his confidence be shot, or will he be as dominant as he’s ever been since his featherweight run began?
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A post shared by Unknown MMA™ (@unknownmma_) on Jul 26, 2019 at 8:44am PDT
As is the case with Holloway, few fighters in the entire UFC have a resumé that can equal that of Frankie Edgar’s. Edgar holds wins over Octagon legends like BJ Penn and Gray Maynard, both of whom he beat twice in title fights, as well as Chad Mendes, Urijah Faber, Jeremy Stephens, Yair Rodriguez and twice against Cub Swanson, all at featherweight, as well as a third win over Penn at 145. Edgar is one of the best natural wrestlers the sport of MMA has ever seen. He was one of the first fighters during the rising period of Zuffa and the UFC who successfully incorporated an aggressive, blitzing-style wrestling attack. He also carries power, as evidenced when he knocked out Chad Mendes in 2015, as well as a polished submission game. Not only is Edgar, after all these years, still amongst the pound-for-pound best fighters skills-wise in the UFC, but his experience is undoubtedly a massive factor when it comes to title fights and main events. This will be his eighth UFC title fight, as well as his twelfth five-round affair. It’s also worth noting that of Edgar’s six career losses, four have come in title fights. Perhaps most importantly for Edgar, he’s been in this position before, not referring to just a title fight, but this scenario he faces with Holloway. He’s a massive underdog, against a dominant, seemingly unstoppable champ, who also just so happens to be from Hawaii. This all seems very reminiscent of his lightweight title-winning affair over BJ Penn in 2010. Will Deja Vu strike again, or will the younger, dominant champion continue his reign in emphatic fashion?
A post shared by Frankie Edgar (@frankieedgar) on May 14, 2019 at 3:20pm PDT
Looking at this fight from a strictly stylistic perspective, this seems like the stereotypical striker vs. grappler matchup. Holloway’s preferred tendency is, of course, to strike, given his massive height and reach advantages on the feet. While he doesn’t have the longest reach in the division, he will have a substantial advantage in that department against Edgar. While Edgar is a very gifted and dominant grappler, he himself has a tendency to want to stand and trade. In his matchup with Brian Ortega, Edgar chose not to shoot for a takedown, and it ended up costing him as Ortega caught him and knocked him out at the end of the first round. In Edgar’s defense, however, Ortega has a very sharp Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu style and might be the best transitional grappler in mixed martial arts today, so him not shooting was almost definitely a worked out gameplan. Edgar has not struggled with rangy opponents in the past, however. This was observed after his demolishing of Yair Rodriguez, a lanky, heavy-handed, and dynamic striker, adjectives that could be used to describe Holloway, albeit in a different manner as Rodriguez is more a distance striker whose best weapons are his kicks (which gives more of an opening for a takedown). The biggest x-factor in this fight: the range and distance control of both men. Edgar will need to find a way to close the distance on Holloway and make the champ fight in-close and out of his range. Easier said than done, of course, especially since Holloway is one of the best fighters in UFC history at maintaining a desired range and distance.
In my opinion, this is as competitive a title fight, on paper, as we’ve seen thus far in 2019. That being said, from a skill perspective, it’s hard for me to envision Holloway getting outmatched in this fight. It’ll be tough for Edgar to close the distance on the much larger Holloway, and his toughness can only take him so far. Edgar will eventually succumb to the overwhelming volume and pressure of Holloway, securing Holloway his third featherweight title defense. Holloway, 3rd Round TKO.
As with all UFC main events, there’s always a storyline and a reason to watch, but this one especially, given the legacy, the impact, and the excitement that this fight should bring to Rogers Place. There’s a reason this fight has been scheduled three times, it’s a mouthwatering matchup that should deliver no shortage of excitement and intrigue once it’s all said and done.■
Follow Johann on Twitter: @thejohanncastro