But a quick survey of their UFC peers will tell you that Frankie Edgar shouldn’t ever be counted out. Edgar, a former lightweight champion, challenges Holloway for his belt in the main event of UFC 240 on Saturday at Rogers Place.
At media day on Thursday, several fighters spoke to MMA Fighting to break down the matchup, including two-time welterweight title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson.
“A lot of people are taking Max Holloway because of the height, the reach, he’s the champion,” Thompson said. “Frankie Edgar, I know when I look at him he’s put on some muscle and you can’t take that guy lightly. You cannot take Frankie Edgar lightly. He’s looking to close the gap, obviously, to try and take him down. I think it’s going to be very difficult for him to do that against somebody as skilled, especially a well-rounded striker as Max Holloway is.
“You saw against his last opponent, even the one before that when he was defending the title, his striking is getting better and better. I hate predicting fights because it’s so up in the air, you have no idea what’s going to happen. My last fight, for example, I was beating Anthony Pettis. I remember getting up out of the first round like his nose was broken, he’s bloody, and then I don’t remember anything.
“It’s just gonna be an amazing fight. If it was me out there especially if I was Frankie Edgar, close the gap, maybe try and get him up against the cage, try and tire him out just a little bit, lay on him if I can. Then again, it’s going to be very difficult for him to close that gap on Max Holloway.”
Also chiming in was one-time welterweight title challenger and a veteran of 26 UFC fights, Thiago Alves, who was in Edmonton to support American Top Team fighter Krzysztof Jotko in his matchup against Marc-Andre Barriault this weekend.
Alves went as far as to say that he thought Edgar could pull off the upset.
“I like Frankie, I think Max is a stud, so hopefully it’s going to be a draw, but I doubt it,” Alves said. “I think Max has the reach advantage and he’s been busy, he’s been fighting back to back. He’s pretty good at using his boxing to keep guys at range and he’s pretty hard to take down, he’s used to fighting bigger guys, obviously.
“So I think everything is going towards Holloway, but I don’t know, I got this feeling that Frankie has just been in this for such a long time and he’s due, he’s due for this. I love both guys, I’m gonna go Frankie because I’m old school, so I gotta go with my guys. It’s just going to be a very good fight and I think Frankie could pull it off.”
Though they had their own matchups to worry about at UFC 240, fighters Felicia Spencer, Olivier Aubin-Mercier, and Niko Price shared their thoughts about the headlining bout, with self-professed Edgar fan Spencer (who fights featherweight legend Cris Cyborg in Saturday’s co-main event) openly rooting for “The Answer” to solve Holloway.
“I love both of the main event players, but I’m definitely pulling for the underdog in this one,” Spencer said. “I feel like we’re kind of on the same side and it would be really cool to see another victory for Frankie.”
Aubin-Mercier meets Arman Tsarukyan in a lightweight bout that pits two strong grapplers against one another. Unsurprisingly, he posited that the wrestling of Edgar could be what makes the difference if he can survive the highly vaunted striking of “Blessed.”
“Two ways it may go, I personally think,” Aubin-Mercier said. “First, Holloway is going to be too much for Edgar standing up with his volume. It could be possible because he has such a long reach. Or Edgar is going to wrestle him.
“You know what? Holloway is such a great opponent, but he had some trouble with wrestling before.”
And Niko Price, who fights Geoff Neal in a welterweight bout Saturday, is predicting that the fight will be a competitive one based on the glimpses of Edgar he’s had this week. However, he’s most focused on enjoying the contest and perhaps even learning a thing or two from two of the UFC’s most decorated competitors.
“I got to watch Edgar go in there, warm up and stuff, and he’s looking good,” Price said. “They all look good. They’re the champs. So I’m just excited to watch the fight.
“I don’t really choose the fights, I like watching them, because the whole time I’m watching I’m processing and seeing stuff I might want to take and learn.”
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