UFC 240 features a headliner that I honestly never thought we’d see in Max Holloway vs Frankie Edgar. Once upon a time Edgar was the king of 155 where he was drastically undersized and it just didn’t matter. Frankie’s speed and power were too much for the fighters at lightweight to handle and his trilogy with Gray Maynard is the stuff of legend. Eventually the younger fighters just got to be too big for 155 and Frankie was forced to move down to 145 where he was sized much better with his competition, but he has run into a bit of trouble.
Frankie’s best attributes are his footwork and his boxing. He has fast hands and a surprising amount of power in them. Frankie wrecked Chad Mendez with a first round KO that earned him a title shot rematch against Jose Aldo back in 2016 but he was outclassed in that fight over 25 minutes. Jose Aldo’s speed and leg kicks were too much for Frankie and while it was an entertaining fight Frankie was clearly the loser. He put his toughness to the test in his next fight where he faced Jeremy Stephens and was able to survive a gritty fight early and pour it on to win a decision and then he turned back the clock by TKOing the rising young star Yair Rodriguez in May 2017. Frankie’s stellar wrestling allowed him to control space and position and once Yair found himself on the ground his height, reach, and speed advantages all disappeared.
Frankie expected to do the same thing against submission specialist Brian “T-City’ Ortega and I thought he was live to do so. Frankie has blended his wrestling base with high level brazilian jiu jitsu and it appeared he would be safe from the submission threat and would be able to rough up Ortega on the ground and grind out another decision or TKO win, but Ortega had other plans.
One of Frankie’s biggest assets has been his durability and he gets hurt in practically every fight. He does a good job of protecting himself and falls back on his wrestling to clear the cobwebs any time he does get clipped, but father time is undefeated and Frankie’s legendary chin can only take so much. Frankie is 37 years old and has been fighting the top end of two really tough divisions for 10 years. Even though they have different skill sets Aldo and Edgar are very similar in their size and speed in the cage and the common opponents of Aldo and Ortega here tell the story of UFC 240 in my opinion.
Max Holloway just got his ass kicked attempting to move up to 155 and collect a second belt. Dustin Porier sent him back to 145 with thunderous punches that would have ended a lesser man but Max hung in there for a full 25 minutes and never stopped firing back. Max’s greatest skill and ability is his volume and pace. He never stops moving forward and he attacks with mostly his hands. Max’s boxing isn’t always the prettiest, but he has such a range advantage over his opponents that he can land when they cant and he cuts good angles and hits them when they think they are safe.
Prior to his loss to Poirier, Max was on an unheard of 13 fight win streak with the last loss being a decision to Conor McGregor back in 2013. Max has been able to outpace all of his opponents and we haven’t seen much of his ground game, not because he isn’t good there but because he just hasn’t needed it. Max has an 83% take down defense rate and has an incredible output of 6.93 significant strikes landed per minute. If this fight hits the ground I will fully expect Edgar to be in control with his wrestling, but Max doesn’t get taken down often and I don’t know that Frankie can hold him there even if he does go down. Max is a full 10 years younger than Frankie and has a 50% KO win rate. All of this comes down to one thing: Max Holloway will knock Frankie Edgar out at UFC 240. Frankie’s chin is crackable and while he can recover well he is getting older and that durability will eventually wane. Max is known for hurting his opponents and then stepping on the gas and not giving them that much needed time to recover and if Frankie cant get the take down to clear his head Max will get it done. Max has only 2 submission wins on his record and he doesn’t really seem to be interested in getting them. Even if he hurts Edgar I think Max will trust his hands rather than looking for a choke and I think he gets it done in the 3rd round.