Tonight (Sat. July 27, 2019) at UFC 240 we get a long-anticipated matchup between two of the best fighters ever in the lower weight classes.
Former UFC lightweight champion Frankie Edgar will get his third shot at the UFC featherweight championship, but this time he’ll fight Max Holloway for it, rather than Jose Aldo like his two previous attempts. Though Edgar dropped to 145 pounds, he’s still generally been the smaller man, and Holloway is actually the biggest fighter he’s ever fought.
Edgar made his UFC debut with a 6-0 record back in 2007, just after winning the Reality Fighting lightweight championship from Jim Miller. “The Answer” won his first three fights in the UFC before being out-wrestled for three rounds against Gray Maynard. He would then go on to win his next three, before being granted a title shot against BJ Penn.
Edgar defeated Penn via unanimous decision (50-45, 48-47, 49-46), and though there was some controversy to the decision, the scorecards showed a clear win for Edgar. In the immediate rematch, Edgar out-classed “The Prodigy” for all five rounds, winning a clear 50-45 unanimous decision across the board.
“The Answer” would then have an amazing fight at UFC 125 with Gray Maynard in their second fight, which of course, resulted in a draw. Their immediate rematch, and trilogy bout ended with Edgar knocking “The Bully” out in round four. Edgar then attempted to defend his belt against the former WEC lightweight champion Benson Henderson, but lost via unanimous decision (49-46, 48-47, 49-46).
He again had another immediate rematch lined up, his third in a row, and lost that fight via split decision (46-49, 48-47, 48-47). Their first fight had a little controversy to it. Many people thought Edgar won, however, many also thought he won the rematch. Had Edgar never lost, he also may have never jumped down to featherweight.
Considering the lack of competence in the judges’ scoring, and considering there had been talk of it for quite a while at that point, Edgar moved down to featherweight to challenge Jose Aldo for the UFC featherweight championship. Despite a very competitive fight, Edgar ultimately lost via unanimous decision (49-46, 49-46, 48-47). Now one of the best fighters in the entire world was on a three-fight losing streak, going from 14-1-1 to 14-4-1. He didn’t let that bother him, however, as he quickly came back that summer and dispatched of Charles Oliveira, out-classing him for all three rounds.
Edgar then faced Penn again after coaching The Ultimate Fighter 19 (TUF 19) against the Hawaiian, and dominated him even more so than before, picking up the TKO victory in round three after a pretty dominant beating. Edgar then faced Cub Swanson, who was on a six-fight win streak with four knockouts. He easily out-classed Swanson the entire fight, out striking him 259-62 and picking up seven takedowns against him, all before getting the finish via neck crank with just four seconds left in the fifth round.
Edgar then took a fight with the former WEC featherweight champion Urijah Faber, the third WEC champion he’d fought. He was 0-3 against them to this point (though many thought he should’ve been 1-2 or 2-1), and he improved that to 1-3 by winning all five rounds against “The California Kid”.
Now the former lightweight champion faced Chad “Money” Mendes, an incredible match-up between two stud NCAA Division I wrestlers that knew how to strike very well. Edgar would end up knocking Mendes out in round one with a beautiful hook, and that was all she wrote. It was time for Edgar to get another shot at the featherweight belt, considering the guys he beat, and also the fact that he was now 5-1 at 145 pounds.
Edgar met Aldo again at UFC 200 for the interim UFC featherweight championship, and would get the exact same result. Though this was a much easier fight for Aldo than their first time around, the scorecards still read (49-46, 49-46, 48-47). He rebounded with a unanimous decision victory over Jeremy Stephens, before putting a stop to the phenom that is Yair Rodriguez. Edgar took The Ultimate Fighter: Latin America winner down and ground and pounded him for two rounds until the fight had to be stopped, courtesy of the doctor.
This granted Edgar a title shot against Max Holloway, but Holloway was unwell, and couldn’t defend his title on the agreed-upon date. Instead, Brian “T-City” Ortega stepped up, and shocked the world. Normally the Californian find success with his grappling, but he KO’d Edgar in round one with a beautiful series of uppercuts. Edgar’s known for his chin and durability, it was a crazy sight to see. “The Answer” returned less than two months later to rematch Cub Swanson, a fight he’d win all three rounds in, but a fight that looked much different from their first.
Max Holloway has been impressive ever since he started fighting. He quickly assumed a 4-0 record outside of the UFC, with his opponents having nearly 100 combined fights. That shows his wealth of knowledge despite being inexperienced. In Holloway’s third fight, he won the X-1 lightweight championship over the course of five rounds.
This means both Edgar and Holloway won titles before joining the UFC, and both won titles in the UFC. Holloway made his UFC debut filling in for Ricardo Lamas on short notice against Dustin Poirier, and looked good in the fight for being a 20-year-old kid that was only 4-0. Of course, he lost this fight, and then went on a three-fight win streak.
“Blessed” would lose a split decision to Dennis Bermudez, a fight many thought he won, before losing via unanimous decision to Conor McGregor. Until his last fight, he hadn’t lost since then. Holloway picked up five wins with four finishes over the next year-and-a-half, and then fought Cub Swanson in his coming-out performance. Most thought he wasn’t ready for the test, but Holloway passed with flying colors, getting the finish at the end of round three.
He then won his next three fights over Charles Oliveira, Jeremy Stephens, and Ricardo Lamas, before getting a shot at the interim UFC featherweight championship against Anthony “Showtime” Pettis. Holloway finished Pettis at the end of round three via TKO, and would now get a shot at the undisputed title against Jose Aldo. He defeated Aldo at the end of round three via TKO, twice.
Then, his last win at UFC 231 against Brian Ortega was this an incredible fight. This shows how little of a limit there is to Holloway’s potential. His style looks a bit like that of TJ Dillashaw, but without the consistent head kicks. Holloway has incredible footwork, great hands, more volume than anyone, great accuracy and shot selection, and he turns up the pace as the fight goes on.
Frankie Edgar went to the state championships in high school for wrestling three times, and placed second as a junior, and fifth as a senior. He then went on to the NHSCA Senior Nationals, and placed second. Edgar went to the Clarion University of Pennsylvania and qualified for nationals all four years he competed. “The Answer’s” wrestling is at a very high level, especially for MMA, because he knows so well how to mix everything up. Holloway has always shown good takedown defense, but with someone like Edgar, it’s hard to predict whether or not he’ll be able to stuff every takedown.
One thing to look at, Holloway only has two submission wins, but both are guillotines. If he can crank on the neck of Edgar like he did against Andre Fili or Cub Swanson, he might be able to get a finish
Holloway’s much bigger than Edgar, of course, as he’s 5’11” to Edgar’s 5’6”, but Edgar’s no stranger to fighting bigger competition. However, Holloway is the biggest guy that Edgar has fought. Edgar’s also fought Yair Rodriguez (5’11”) and Charles Oliveira (5’10”). Holloway is 5’11”, like Rodriguez, but has a little more muscle on his frame and doesn’t throw kicks like Rodriguez. The Hawaiian is more of a boxer, so Edgar’s not going to have all sorts of kicks to look for to catch and get a takedown off of, he’s going to have to set them up. Not to mention, Holloway’s better than Rodriguez.
Though Holloway is the biggest guy that Edgar’s fought, he only has a one-inch reach advantage, but he knows how to lengthen that with his frame and height. This may be the decade-older Edgar’s final shot at a UFC title, but then again it may not. He could certainly work his way back up if he loses, and he could definitely win this fight. He’s one of the best ever to step into the cage.
In order for Max to win, he’ll most likely have to keep those straight punches in Edgar’s face, maybe towards the end of round two or round three have him start mixing his punches up like he always does. There’s a reason Holloway’s last four wins were all around the same time. He had four stoppages in the third round in a row that were after the four-minute mark, then a doctor stoppage at the end of round four. He starts out smart, but stays consistent throughout. He just picks up the pace as the fight goes on.
As for Edgar, he needs to keep that jab in Holloway’s face and set up different entries to his takedowns. He won’t be able to just use the same takedown against a guy like Holloway, even if he is successful with the first couple. “Blessed” knows how to make adjustments, Edgar will have to slow the pace of the champion and grind him out. This matchup is surely going to be very exciting.
How do each of these guys match up with Alexander Volkanovski?