Max Holloway is in a fairly unusual position as a champion off a loss; after his destruction of Brian Ortega in December of 2018, Holloway looked to claim the interim lightweight championship, only to come up short against Dustin Poirier in one of the best fights of all time. If there was any undeserved doubt after UFC 236 regarding whether the Blessed Era was ongoing at featherweight, Holloways fight at UFC 240 is a good place for those to be silenced. Holloways back to usual business at UFC 240, defending his title back at 145 pounds against a contender hes been scheduled to face twice already, and a win would put yet another great name on his resume (even if the value of beating that name in 2019 might be somewhat in doubt).
Edgar has three losses at featherweight, two to the same man (Jose Aldo), and those losses came against fighters who could keep Edgar from accessing the transitional areas where he excels. While its easier said than done, denying Edgar transitions is probably the best way to beat him, because hes as shrewd as anyone when he gets there. The other loss was to Brian Ortega, whose submission threat on takedown attempts left Edgar just boxing him for most of the first round; while he looked like the better boxer, his running entries ran him into an intercepting elbow near the end of round 1. Jose Aldos sharp pivot and counterpunching kept Edgar from being able to set anything up with his hands or credibly enter on takedowns; Edgars linear charges either met with a jab (in the first fight), a counter right hand (in the second fight) or just a pivot (in both), which left him unable to play them off each other and therefore left both ineffective.
While the first Swanson fight was probably his career-best performance, the second one against a much declined Swanson saw him find a lot more trouble getting takedowns, which left his boxing less effective than it should be. Unfortunately, this possibility seems slim looking at Edgars last performance; prime Edgar would have been a very compelling challenge to the Blessed Era, but the Edgar of the Swanson rematch seemed very far from his best days. The best case for Holloway/Edgar is one of the most high-level fights in MMA in terms of fight IQ; both Holloway and Edgar have proven incredible adaptability over their careers, and over five rounds, both would have plenty of time to switch things up according to what the other shows them.
Jos Aldo vs Alexander Volkanovski: Predictions, Betting Tips, Odds & Statistics
Its some rise from the 30-year-old, after switching to the fight game from professional rugby seven years ago. The Australian TKOd former title challenger Chad Mendes at UFC 232 in December, handing him the biggest win of his career. Alexander Volkanovski comes into the bout on the back of a 16-fight winning streak, with six of those in the UFC.
Im a part of New Zealand now as well, I feel, Volkanovski said. Obviously everyone knows that were a big threat, but you know, when we said were taking over, we really are. I fight for Australia obviously, even the Anzacs, you know. Im fighting for this side of the world. Again, like weve still got something to prove.
Most of it stems from one of the strongest jabs in the sport; Holloways jab can be used as a power shot, but its mostly used as a setup the way great jabs tend to be. Holloways jab is used to set a rhythm that he can later break (for example, starting with a regularly-paced 1-2 against Ortega only to switch to doubling and tripling up on the jab to line up the straight, feinted jabs into straights, and double-straights as he angled around Ortega to bypass his shoulder roll as the fight progressed), and also to manipulate his opponents defense; the latter was pivotal against the defensively masterful Jose Aldo, as Holloways fast and noncommittal jab was used to draw Aldos head-movement to punish it with harder shots as he was out of position. Holloways 1-2 can be aimed at the body or the head with varying degrees of intensity, and it only becomes more useful as the fight goes on (as Holloway builds on all the threats hes shown throughout the fight). Holloways strongest asset is his boxing, and in an MMA context, Holloways boxing is undeniably top 3 in the world; while his loss to Poirier has brought criticism of Holloways pocket defense, against all but the most elite boxers in MMA, Holloway has proven extremely difficult to consistently hit, and hes also one of the most relentless offensive threats MMA has ever seen.
This one is hard to call but Im going with Alexander Volkanovski. Jose will be the biggest test for Volkanovski but if Alexander can pull off this victory I expect him to be a great challenger in the division. Volkanovski hasnt lost in a long time and hes only done it once. Jose is on his way out in my opinion.
The Recent Form of Aldo and Volkanovski
Edgars chain-wrestling will be difficult to implement as well, considering that he will be facing the best ring-general of his career (perhaps excepting Jose Aldo); while Edgar backed Yair Rodriguez to the fence very easily to get in on his hips and work from there, Holloway is an immeasurably tougher ask between the angles that he takes in exchanges and his sound lateral movement. With a massive range disadvantage and a reliance on bursting forward to make that up, theres a very good chance that Edgar just runs into jabs and check hooks as he enters (as he did against Aldo), so his takedown attempts will likely be poorly masked. Edgars ability to set takedowns up with his own striking will be harmed by facing a better jabber; while Edgar has a smart and versatile jab which he uses to hide his level changes, Holloways is the gold standard. This spells bad things against Holloway, whose wrestling (while technically untested against a truly great wrestler like Edgar) will likely be helped by a comparatively massive frame and a very good clinch game; Holloway is a consistent gripfighter with a damaging clinch, so if Edgar cant get takedowns, consistent attempts will only lead to damage.
Ill be ringside so if anything happens I dont want anyone squeezing into that title fight. Ill let everyone know Im next. I will be there ready. Im looking to put myself in that position. Ill be fight ready. If someone gets injured, Ill take that.
This ranges from his body jab (that he can build into straights and hook combinations at the midriff) to the body kicks that he can draw his opponents into (Pettis with the spinning back-kick) or end combinations with. In his wins over Aldo (the rare boxer in MMA with comparable skill to Holloway), Holloways best weapon was his pace, and Holloway has done a great job throughout his career responsibly pushing a torrid tempo while reducing his opponents capacity to keep up with him as the fight progresses. However, the best tool for Holloway to emphasize his cardio edge is his body work; Holloway is one of the most prolific body-attackers in MMA, and it does a great job wilting his opponent as the fight progresses. Holloways jab was consistently in Aldos face forcing him to react and look for counters, and if his opponent is backed to the fence, Holloway absolutely buzzsaws them without a single second to rest (as he did to finish Brian Ortega late in their fight). Holloways 5 round fights give him plenty of time to both adapt to his opponent and wear them down with attrition, which means that they rarely (in fact, only once) go the full distance.
Someone that can handle his pace, someone who loves being in there, you fight with volume coming at him, [Frankie] is very comfortable in there and then hes got the takedowns to back it up. If Max is coming a little too strong, [Frankies] instincts are always going to be there to shoot. Hes always got that the threaten Max. These are things Max hasnt really dealt with.
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The Swanson fight also showed his strong chain-wrestling; Edgar showed everything from using the shot to enter and finishing with an upper-body throw to using the knee-pick entry to get to the waistlock and switching to the double from there, which basically meant that if Swanson couldnt stop Edgar from just getting his hands on him, the takedown was nearly a foregone conclusion. Edgars skill in those transitions also lends itself well to using transitions to strike; Edgars finish of Gray Maynard in their third fight came with a short uppercut on the break as Maynard was trying to defend a takedown, and the most effective moments he had in his rematch with Swanson in April of 2018 were largely shots on the break.
I think Aldo win by decision. Volkanovski is good, but Im staying with Aldo because Ive only seen a few people beat him and theyre among the best ever at what they do. If hes not fighting Max Holloway or Conor McGregor, Aldo has looked almost unstoppable. Until I see him decline against everyone else, Ill go with Aldo over most fighters.