UFC 240: Can Holloway Reassert His Dominance Against Edgar?

Max Holloway, UFC 240
Max Holloway, UFC 240 Ceremonial Weigh-In Credit: Jay Anderson/Cageside Press

After coming up short for the first time in five years, can Max Holloway reassert his dominance back at featherweight against former champion Frankie Edgar at UFC 240.

Despite the loss back in April at UFC 236, Max Holloway remains on the verge of a virtual sweep of the featherweight division.  With another victory, the conversation would shift away from the lightweight division (for now) and back to the many accolades he has accumulated.  However, the ever dangerous Frankie Edgar is eager to regain UFC gold for the first time since 2013 and has the chance to upset another dominant Hawaiiaan at UFC 240.

Is Max Holloway more vulnerable after coming up short against Dustin Poirier at lightweight?  After a 13 fight win-streak and five years of being unbeaten, he has a stage on Saturday to show that he remains as dangerous as ever despite having come up short just three short months ago.  It is a good opportunity to remind everyone that he is still on the verge of a near sweep of the division.  Alexander Volkanovski may be waiting in the wings, but the other names at 145 still need to have a big 2019 if they are to make a case for a shot at the belt.

Three names have dominated the division in the last decade besides Holloway: José Aldo, Edgar, and Conor McGregor.  With two wins over the Brazilian legend already under his belt, a win over Edgar would further his hold on the best featherweight of the past several years on the strength of his schedule.  It would also cement his place as the leader of the next generation at 145 as the next wave of contenders has only recently risen to prominence.

Frankie “The Answer” Edgar has been consistent for so long that it’s easy to forget that he is 37.  For the last decade, he has been a champion or top ranked contender and had nearly as many title fights as he had regular fights in that span.  The match with Holloway has been booked twice before, with each man not making it to fight night for one reason or another.  This will be his third chance to win the featherweight title, and many are quick to say it will be his last.

In the last two years, Edgar has gone 3-1.  A respectable record, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story.  The loss was a devastating first round knockout to lethal upstart Brian Ortega and was the first time Edgar had ever been stopped in his career.  He followed it up with a great five round effort to Cub Swanson months later, but then a bicep injury forced him out of a pivotal clash with the Korean Zombie in November.  Is this a sign that Edgar may be starting to miss a step?  A loss on Saturday would certainly make it appear that his time to claim UFC gold again has passed.  However, it is also a perfect chance for him to turn back the clock with vintage performance reminiscent of the time he conquered another Hawaiian star, BJ Penn, in another upset that made him a champion.

The mountain that Edgar has to climb is the height and reach of Holloway.  The champion is arguably the best fighter in the lighter weight classes in terms of maintaining distance so high volume and feints are all imperative to getting inside.  Edgar should look to aim at the body which will be a bigger target and frequently mix in takedown attempts to make Holloway more weary of his offense.  In his favor, he figures to be the faster fighter with a gas tank well-proven against top opposition for five rounds.

Holloway should work behind stinging punches down the middle every time Edgar looks to close the distance.  He figures to have the power advantage and should look to establish an attack behind the jab where he can use his reach.  Most importantly, he should cut off the cage and crowd Edgar when possible as it takes away the space he needs to use his excellent footwork.  From there, wearing him down with a high volume attack is his path to victory.

While Holloway has mentioned a return to 155 in the future, he likely faces Alexander Volkanovski with a victory either late this year or early 2020.  For Edgar, an upset virtually guarantees a Holloway rematch assuming both leave the bout healthy enough for the fight to happen in short order.