MMA Review: #692: UFC 240: Holloway vs. Edgar

-Time to travel back to July 2019 where there was no Coronavirus and the only thing we had to worry about was, well, there was probably some shit going on but in MMA it was just the fact that Frankie Edgar was getting another largely undeserved title shot, this time against Max Holloway. I remember this show being terrible at the time so let’s see if I’m right.

UFC 240: Holloway vs. Edgar

Edmonton, Alberta

-Your hosts are Jon Anik and Joe Rogan, making a change from the usual three-man teams.

Middleweight Fight: Krzysztof Jotko vs Marc-Andre Barriault

Barriault was coming back from a loss in his UFC debut in a sloppy fight with Andrew Sanchez, while Jotko had last been seen in a pretty dull win over Alen Amedovski.

First round begins and Barriault presses forward early on with some low kicks as Jotko circles out. Clinch from Jotko and he forces Barriault into the fence where things slow down. They jockey for position inside and Jotko lands some knees to the legs before finally breaking. Big right hand glances for Barriault. He’s really swinging here but isn’t landing a lot unfortunately. Couple of decent strikes do land for Jotko. Clinch from Barriault but they break swiftly. Nice back elbow lands for Jotko as Barriault steps in. Clinch sees both men land some sharp strikes before Jotko gets a takedown, but Barriault pops right back up. Takedown attempt from Barriault and he dumps Jotko right on his head, but fucks it up and the Pole bounces back to his feet. Round ends there. 10-9 Jotko I guess? Not a lot to see really.

Second round and Barriault comes out pushing the fight, but both guys miss on their early strikes. Clinch follows before Barriault breaks off with a couple of punches. Slow-paced exchange continues and this crowd are DEAD. Jotko’s punches just don’t seem to be having a lot of effect. Combo leads to a takedown attempt for him, but Barriault blocks and the crowd are now booing. Uppercut breaks for Jotko. Stinging right from Barriault forces Jotko back but he seems fine. Uppercut again from Jotko but Barriault shoves him into the fence. They jockey for position to the sound of more boos before breaking off, and Barriault looks a bit tired. Takedown from Barriault ends with Jotko landing in mount somehow and that’s the round. Ugh, no clue how to score that. Terrible round.

Third round and Jotko opens with a takedown attempt, but Barriault defends it pretty well. It’s back to the clinch from there and even Herb Dean is getting frustrated now, telling both guys to WORK. Another takedown fails for Jotko before they break. Another clinch sees a brief exchange, and another follows that with Barriault landing a couple of decent shots. Barriault is really stalking now. Takedown attempt again from Jotko but it fails once more. Two minutes to go and it looks like Jotko might be cut. And from there they basically keep exchanging in and out of the clinch until the fight ends with a Jotko takedown. Hard to score again.

Judges have it 29-28 Jotko, 29-28 Barriault and 29-28 Jotko for Krzysztof Jotko to take the split decision. Totally forgettable fight though in every possible way really. Way too much clinching for my tastes.

Lightweight Fight: Arman Tsarukyan vs Olivier Aubin-Mercier

Tsarukyan had made his UFC debut earlier in the year with a pretty tough loss to Islam Makhachev, but he showed a ton of potential so it was cool to see him back against Aubin-Mercier, who to be honest has never quite lived up to the hype he had coming off TUF Nations.

Round One begins and they circle before Tsarukyan goes for a takedown and uses a leg trip to ground OAM. He pops back up though right away and breaks free. Head kick is caught by Tsarukyan who clinches and looks for the takedown again, but OAM again defends. Big swings miss for both guys and OAM lands a pretty flush knee. Big kick is caught though and Tsarukyan gets him down and takes the back. OAM pops right back up, but he can’t get away fully. One hook in now for Tsarukyan. Crowd are now booing again as Tsarukyan just holds onto the Canadian without doing a lot. Round ends with some knees to the legs from Tsarukyan. 10-9 Tsarukyan.

Round Two and they trade strikes before Tsarukyan looks for a takedown. OAM defends it and they wind up clinched, with OAM looking for the takedown. Tsarukyan defends that and breaks off, with OAM landing a couple of solid body kicks and a strong knee to the jaw. Another knee has Tsarukyan in trouble and he drops for the takedown, but he can’t get him down. They go back to exchanging and OAM keeps on throwing the left kick. Takedown attempt from Tsarukyan has the crowd booing again. OAM blocks it and then walks into a left hand as he throws the kick again. Nice body kick from Olivier. Decent punches answer back for Tsarukyan. Round ends with Tsarukyan throwing strikes coming forward. Probably 10-9 for OAM for those big knees that had Tsarukyan hurt.

Round Three and a pair of big right hands land for Tsarukyan before he drops for the takedown. OAM defends it well but Tsarukyan is really pushing the action in this round. Aubin-Mercier gets a takedown, but ends up on the bottom from it in full guard. Action slows down from there as AOM tries a couple of submissions but can’t get them while Tsarukyan lands a series of short elbows and remains in control. Round ends with Tsarukyan on top.

Judges all have it 29-28 for Arman Tsarukyan. Fight was better than the opener but not by a lot to be honest as it was mostly clinching and Tsarukyan looking for takedowns that never really worked. Tsarukyan is definitely going to be a hell of a fighter at some point but this wasn’t an entertaining one to watch, sorry.

Welterweight Fight: Niko Price vs Geoff Neal

This looked like a super-exciting fight as Niko Price ALWAYS brings the excitement and is basically the quintessential kill or be killed fighter. Neal though was 3-0 in the UFC and so this looked like a pretty tricky fight for Price given his wild style.

Fight begins and both guys look surprisingly tentative in the early going. Good leg kick lands for Price. Short left from Neal sets up a slam and he takes the back with no hooks in a weird position, and they pop back up to the feet and jockey for position. Neal breaks off and they exchange punches and it looks like Neal has a definite speed advantage. Big left hand hurts Price but he fires back with some knees before Neal goes for a takedown. Price defends that and they trade from inside the clinch and this is already better than the last two fights. Head kick lands for Price and Neal looks hurt, and a left hand drops him! Price goes into full mount but Neal has enough about him to get half-guard and prevent much more damage. Full guard now for Neal but Price drops a big right hand before they pop up. Takedown from Neal and he takes the back with both hooks before getting full mount as the round ends. 10-9 Price for the knockdown.

Into the 2nd and Neal lands a clean left hand but goes down off a low kick, and suddenly it’s a FIREFIGHT as both guys just start swinging like drunks in a bar, holy shit. Both guys get tagged before Price looks for a guillotine, but Neal frees his head and takes top position. Price gives his back for a second but quickly gets back to full guard, but he takes a couple of pretty gnarly elbows in the process. Really big shots start to get through for Neal and Price might be in trouble here. He hangs on, but takes some more BIG SHOTS as Neal is generating some serious power. BRUTAL SHOTS have Price’s head dribbling off the mat and that’s all she wrote.

That was a tremendous fight; Price came out aggressively as you’d expect but ended up in a firefight with a much heavier hitter and once Neal got on top and found he could open up, this fight was OVER. Everyone needs to keep an eye on Neal going forward because he looked awesome here and with his brutal punching power he could do some real damage in the division.

Women’s Featherweight Fight: Cris Cyborg vs Felicia Spencer

This was Cyborg’s first fight back following her big upset loss to Amanda Nunes in December 2018, while Spencer was making her second UFC appearance following her win over Megan Anderson. Obvious pick was Cyborg but Spencer to be fair was a pretty solid underdog bet due to the questions about how Cyborg would bounce back from her first loss in years.

Round One and it’s pretty clear that Cyborg’s got a big size advantage as per usual. Couple of right hands land for Spencer as Cyborg looks to swarm her early, but a takedown attempt is easily shrugged off and Cyborg opens up with a couple of heavy shots. Nasty counter right lands for Cyborg but it looks like she’s cut from an elbow from Spencer. Clinch from Spencer and she gets a big crowd pop when it’s clear Cyborg is bleeding. No takedown though and Cyborg lands some heavy shots as they break off. Spencer’s chin is pretty awesome. Low kick drops her for a second but she pops back up immediately. Cyborg is just pot-shotting from the outside now. Huge punches get through but Spencer somehow eats them up. She’s clearly tough as nails. Another huge flurry lands for Cyborg but Spencer manages to force her into the fence. She’s taking some harsh knees from the clinch in the process though. Round ends in the clinch. 10-9 Cyborg, pretty one-sided round to be honest.

Round Two and Joe Rogan is going on about how tired Cyborg is but she doesn’t look gassed at all to me. Big kick to the body from Cyborg but Spencer catches the leg and shoves her into the fence again. Single leg is blocked though but Cyborg can’t break out of the clinch. Crowd are way into Spencer. She throws some upward elbows from the clinch now but still can’t get Cyborg down. Takedown from Cyborg now and she drops some big elbows. Spencer manages to land an upkick and then kicks the legs, but Cyborg drops some more big punches down into the guard. Into north/south for Cyborg now and she’s in firm control. Two minutes to go and they stand back up, with Cyborg landing a nasty left hook. Rogan is still way behind Spencer, almost to the point that it’s ridiculous. Low kick from Cyborg is countered by a left from Spencer. Huge counter right from Cyborg but Spencer eats it right up. Round ends with Spencer walking into some more big shots. 10-9 Cyborg.

Round Three and Spencer tries a superman punch that leads to the clinch, but Cyborg breaks off with some short punches. Cyborg continues to pick her apart comfortably with leg kicks and punches, and it just doesn’t look like Spencer’s got much of an answer. Brutal knees from Cyborg prevent a clinch. Big head kick suddenly lands for Spencer but it doesn’t have much effect. Looked like the toes made the most impact maybe. Into the clinch again and Cyborg lands some heavy knees. Big shots have Spencer hurt again but she manages to hold on once more. They break and to be fair to Spencer she keeps on pushing forward. More of the same continues as Spencer just absorbs punishment. Round ends with Spencer somehow surviving despite taking a TON of strikes. 10-8 Cyborg, 30-26 overall.

Judges have it 30-27 all round for Cris Cyborg. Fun-ish fight as Spencer was like a zombie, constantly coming forward despite taking a ton of punishment, and Cyborg was unsurprisingly happy to dish it out. Basically a one-sided squash with Spencer being tough enough to survive. Of course, this would be the last time we’d see Cyborg in the UFC as she was released after this due to well, her usual bullshit, and I can’t say I’m not happy to see her gone. She’s more trouble than she’s worth in my opinion.

UFC World Featherweight Title: Max Holloway vs Frankie Edgar

This fight was initially planned for UFC 218 in 2017, but when Edgar got injured and was then knocked out by Brian Ortega in his next fight it felt like his chance at the title was gone. When this one was booked then, it definitely felt strange – essentially like a challenger of the month type thing for a champion who’d proven to be pretty dominant at this point. Despite Holloway losing to Dustin Poirier – at 155lbs – in his last fight, I figured he’d be too good for the ageing Edgar here and win this comfortably.

Round One and they circle with Holloway looking to use his reach and length to keep Edgar on the outside. Lot of early strikes from Edgar come up short. Couple of jabs land for Holloway. Beautiful uppercut lands for the Hawaiian as Edgar steps in. Holloway basically seems happy for Edgar to walk into his shots right now. Quick flurry glances for Edgar. Clean right hand gets through for Holloway and a left to the body follows. Nice low kick from Frankie. Beautiful uppercut again lands for Max, snapping Edgar’s head back. Round ends with a stiff jab from the champ. 10-9 Holloway; he didn’t throw a lot but what he did throw was excellent.

Round Two and both men trade glancing combos in the opening minute. Big left to the body and a flush right hand land for Holloway. Leg kick from Edgar is countered by a stiff jab and an uppercut. Holloway looks content to just pick at Frankie from the outside right now. Takedown attempt from Edgar is unsuccessful and Holloway shrugs off the clinch too. Brief exchange sees both men land. Edgar keeps throwing combos but coming up slightly short on them and taking hard shots on his way out. Looks like Edgar’s nose is bleeding. Nasty combo lands for the champ. Holloway’s jab is incredibly fast. Big right hand lands and stops Frankie in his tracks. He does fire back but his punches just aren’t having the same effect. Nice low kick from Edgar but Holloway is timing him with his shots now. Takedown is easily shrugged off. Huge spinning kick to the body ends the round for the champ. 10-9 Holloway again.

Round Three and Edgar goes for the takedown right away, but Holloway works hard and stuffs it. Excellent takedown defense there. Low kick and a right hand connect for Edgar. Flicking jabs land for Holloway to keep Edgar on his bike. Decent punches fire back for the challenger. Brief clinch sees Holloway land a couple of knees to the gut. Nice exchange sees both men land shots. Holloway is still doing a good job of keeping Edgar at bay while also landing his own strikes. Takedown is shrugged off again and a second attempt fares no better, with Holloway stinging him with a left on the exit. One minute to go and a pair of uppercuts have Edgar hurt. Right hand wobbles his legs and he lunges for the clinch, and then manages to secure a takedown. Edgar manages to hold him down but with seconds to go, Max works to his feet. 10-9 Holloway.

Round Four and Holloway presses the action with his punches before Edgar goes for a single leg. Max blocks with ease though only to eat a solid right hand from the challenger. Holloway’s output appears to be slightly slower in this round. He’s still largely keeping Edgar on the end of his punches though, especially the jab. Deep takedown attempt from Edgar is stuffed. Another one sees him force the champ into the fence, but fail to get him down again. Decent combo lands for Holloway. Looks like Edgar’s bleeding badly from the mouth. Just under 2 minutes to go now and Holloway’s really starting to pick him off again. Pair of big right hands have Frankie wobbled but he keeps on coming forward, fair play to him. Big takedown attempt fails though. Round ends with another spin kick from Holloway. 10-9 Holloway, pretty clear-cut round again.
Round Five and Holloway looks like he’s barely been touched. Edgar meanwhile is badly marked up. Jabs get through for Holloway early while Edgar comes up short on his strikes outside of a couple of low kicks. Deep takedown attempt is again defended masterfully by the champ. Right hand snaps Frankie’s head back. His jab is so nasty too as it keeps on landing. Edgar is just struggling to catch him cleanly. More good punches connect for Holloway and he stuffs the takedown again. Edgar’s getting pieced up badly in this round. One minute to go though and he’s probably going to survive. Round ends with largely more of the same. 10-9 Holloway, 50-45 Holloway for me.
Official scores are 50-45, 50-45 and 48-47 for Max Holloway to retain the title. Well, whichever judge had it 48-47 needs his fucking eyes testing but apart from that, this was pretty clear-cut. It was also the most dominant that anyone’s ever looked over Edgar in a title fight so that shows how high a level Holloway was operating at during this period. Basically it was just a textbook win for him though, and because he never really came close to finishing the challenger, it wasn’t as memorable as his previous title fights.
-Show ends with an interview with top contender Alexander Volkanovski talking about how he’d go up against Holloway. Cool stuff actually as the UFC doesn’t usually do stuff like that.
Final Thoughts….

This was one of the worst UFC PPVs in recent memory. The main event was good and Neal/Price was a fantastic fight, but outside of that, the first two fights stunk and the Cyborg/Spencer one wasn’t that great either, just a one-sided beating really without the thrill of a finish. Thumbs way down for one of the worst shows of 2019.

Best Fight: Neal vs. Price
Worst Fight: Jotko vs. Barriault

Overall Rating: *1/2

Until next time,

Scott Newman: