Post-Fight Thoughts: Max Holloway -vs- Frankie Edgar
Capping off an underwhelming pay-per-view — both on paper and in execution — was a very competitive fight between featherweight champion Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar. In many ways, the fight went as I envisioned, in other ways Edgar and Holloway both managed to surprise me. Holloway convincingly won 4 rounds, with the first being the only truly debatable round. Holloway definitively won, but he did not outclass or outright embarass Edgar as he has done with so many of his other opponents. I expected Max to pour on the volume in the later rounds, but that didn't happen; the fight maintained the same moderate pace for the majority of its 25 minutes. Either Holloway didn't see the right openings or was wary of Edgar's counter-attacks — or, likely, some mix of both — but he never got over-eager to swarm for a finish.
Edgar's movement seemed to pose some problems for Holloway, who did not use his jab nearly as much I was expecting. For a 37 year-old, Edgar's speed is still impressive — even competing in the lighter end of the weight classes — but it wasn't enough to consistently close distance on Holloway and land punches. Edgar's combos were good, as was his conditioning; it wasn't that Edgar performed badly, it's that Holloway had *cough* the answer for everything coming his way. Edgar also went 1/13 on takedown attempts, and wasn't able to do anything with the position in the one instance where he did get Holloway to the mat. They may have had comparable reach on paper, but Holloway controlled distance for the entirety of the fight and kept Edgar at bay as though he were 7 feet tall. Edgar's gameplan was fine, he just either got kept at range or was unable to stop Max from framing out every time he got close enough to clinch and attempt a takedown.
I'm glad I didn't put much emphasis on the potential of either fighter being washed, as that was definitively not the case. Edgar was quick, tenacious, and possessed of his usual durability. Likewise, Holloway was precise and slick on his feet, his takedown defence was on point, and his strikes were effective and pinpoint accurate. As difficult as it is to accept a defeat, I don't think Edgar has anything to be ashamed of — he performed well, he just ran into one of the best fighters of the modern era. Edgar was competitive throughout the fight, landing some shots that snapped Holloway's head back; he kept the champion much more reserved than we've seen him. By the end of the fight, Edgar's face was busted up but Holloway had taken his share of heavy shots — it just takes a lot to mark his face up.
In his post-fight interview, Rogan asked Edgar about the possibility of dropping down to 135 pounds. Aside from that being a really bad question to ask someone who just got routed in a title fight, my knee-jerk reaction is that such a move would be a bad idea. Edgar was very competitive with Holloway, so he's still a viable, elite fighter — I expect he will keep fighting for a while longer. As for Max Holloway, he's left with no other challengers aside from Alexader Volkanovski. Provided Max retains his title in their fight, the division is completely cleared out. That said, Volkanovski is a legitimate contender so it would be unwise to look too far ahead.
It's too bad that UFC 240 was such a weak card overall, that certainly took some of the shine off of what was otherwise a very high-level MMA fight in the main event. We didn't get the cartoonish violence we've almost come to expect from Holloway, but we did see a superbly technical performance from an exceptionally talented, defending champion. This was not a Fight Of The Year contender by any stretch, but it was far from a bad fight to watch. I'm not saying it was worth $65, because it wasn't — and neither was all of UFC 240 but it was a good fight on its merits. I enjoyed it and I'm looking forward to see both fighters compete again, I'm glad my concerns about career mileage seem to have been misplaced.
Published: July 28th, 2019.