Preview: UFC 240 ‘Holloway vs. Edgar’

Holloway vs. Edgar

By Tom Feely Jul 24, 2019

The ordering process for Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-views has changed: UFC 240 is only available on ESPN+ in the U.S.

The fight announcements started out well enough with the top two bouts, but as the Ultimate Fighting Championship filled out the roster, it became clear that UFC 240 on Saturday in Edmonton, Alberta, had been cut from the same cloth as UFC 234.

It has a fun title fight (Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar) for the main event and a legendary attraction (Cristiane Justino) in the co-headliner, with available prospects and local stars comprising the rest of the card. From a star-power standpoint, it has little on which to lean. Geoff Neal and Niko Price should engage in a banger of a welterweight battle, but beyond their encounter, the focus shifts to the progress of prospects like Arman Tsarukyan and Marc-Andre Barriault.

Now to the UFC 240 “Holloway vs. Edgar” preview:

UFC Featherweight Championship

Max Holloway (20-4) vs. Frankie Edgar (23-6-1)

ODDS: Holloway (-400), Edgar (+325)

It is a testament to Holloway’s greatness that, at 27 years old, most of the discussion surrounding his career is already about his legacy. Holloway ran roughshod over most of the featherweight elite during the 10-fight winning streak that earned him a shot at Jose Aldo; and after beating Aldo twice and defending his title against Brian Ortega, there was little left for the Hawaiian to prove at 145 pounds. That is why the announcement of his interim lightweight title fight against Dustin Poirier was not particularly surprising despite the lack of build. Holloway had struggled with his cuts to 145 pounds anyway, and this was a major opportunity to affirm himself as the type of generational talent that can hang at the top of the UFC’s deepest divisions. The fight itself wound up being a mixed bag for Holloway. While it was an obvious win for the much harder puncher in Poirier, Holloway kept things close enough in exchanges to show that once the time comes for the featherweight champ to start plying his trade at 155 pounds on a full-time basis, he just needs to bulk up to ride with the lightweight elite. While it was Holloway’s first loss in his last 14 fights, he is still riding a six-year winning streak at 145 pounds, and it is time for the “Blessed” one to get back to defending his turf. Up next is the biggest name Holloway has left to check off of his list, as he is finally slated to lock horns with Edgar.

Edgar has a case as the most underrated great talent in the history of the sport, despite being one of the best fighters in two of the best divisions in MMA for the better part of the past decade. Even as far back as Edgar’s lightweight title shot at B.J. Penn, “The Answer” has been a bit of an afterthought. That fight only came about as a message to fellow top contender Gray Maynard about his boring style, and even after scoring the upset win, Edgar was expected to drop the championship right back to Penn in a rematch. Instead, Edgar won in one-sided fashion and went on to a title reign that had critical acclaim, if little success at the box office. He beat the undefeated Maynard, dropped two close bouts to Benson Henderson in controversial fashion and then finally decided to ply his trade down at 145 pounds. That was the correct move. Edgar would be even more undersized against today’s lightweights, and fighting smaller opponents allowed him to show off his skills as a mauling powerhouse, most notably in the 2014 beating he laid on Cub Swanson. However, for all of Edgar’s success against a vast swath of the division, he always fell short against Aldo. Some observers felt Edgar won their two fights due to his constant pressure, but Aldo did an excellent job of playing matador, winning exchanges and establishing himself as the only man who could beat “The Answer” at 145 pounds -- until recent years. Those recent years have resulted in an odd run for Edgar. A title fight against Holloway fell through in both late 2017 and early 2018, with the latter turning into a bout in which Brian Ortega knocked out Edgar with a brutal uppercut. Edgar then took a quick turnaround rematch with an uninspired Swanson that resulted in a decisive victory. “The Answer” securing another title shot after that win and a long layoff makes this feel more like a career achievement award than anything else. Edgar getting this title shot after that win and a long layoff makes this feel more like a career achievement award than anything, but at the same time, it would be difficult to say that he has not had the type of career that is worthy of this opportunity.

The general feel is that this is an inevitable Holloway win, and frankly, that is a hard stance with which to disagree. Even with the one-sided loss to Ortega and his increasing age, Edgar is still likely among the top handful of featherweights in the world, but Holloway is operating at a whole other level. Edgar has always had his wrestling to fall back on, and though Holloway is a dynamic and natural striker, his secret weapon has been his takedown defense; and it seems unlikely that Edgar will be any more successful where others before him have failed. Without that, this should be an interesting chess match on the feet -- both men like to feel out things and see how their opponents react -- but Holloway should begin taking over as the fight goes on. Edgar is a bit more committed to pressure, but while his striking feels more like trying to figure out which set of tricks will work best in a situation, Holloway just naturally flows into violent combinations. Add in Holloway’s length, physical advantages and what is likely the stronger gas tank, and this feels like the Hawaiian’s other fights against top veterans -- fights in which he begins setting a pace his opponent cannot match and eventually turns it into a blowout. Holloway is the clear pick, and since Edgar is more likely to take an accumulation of damage than get knocked cold, the call is for the victory to happen via decision.

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