clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Making the Grade: UFC 240: Holloway vs. Edgar

New, comments
Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC 240 wasn’t the most hyped pay-per-view of the year, but the card from Edmonton still managed to showcase another stellar performance from featherweight champion Max Holloway as well as Cris Cyborg getting back in the win column following her first loss in more than a decade.

Holloway out dueled Frankie Edgar in the main event as he earned his 13th consecutive win in the featherweight division along with his third title defense overall.

Meanwhile, Cyborg bounced back after falling to reigning two-division UFC champion Amanda Nunes last December as she earned a unanimous decision victory over previously undefeated featherweight Felicia Spencer.

There was a lot to unpack from UFC 240 so here are the passes and fails from the card that took place on Saturday night from Canada.


King Max Still Rules

Max Holloway doesn’t like conversations that involve references to ‘the greatest of all time’ in the featherweight division but it’s nearly impossible not to bring it up after watching him put on another masterful display.

Holloway showcased a dynamic striking attack as well as a defensive wrestling game that thwarted Frankie Edgar at every turn over the course of five rounds. While Edgar didn’t get dominated or finished, Holloway was still in control for the majority of 25 minutes while busting up the New Jersey native’s nose and out landing him in significant strikes in every round outside of the first.

While Holloway technically only has three title defenses, his 13 fight win streak at featherweight is tied for one of the longest streaks in any division in UFC history. Add to that, Holloway holds a pair of TKO wins over legendary former champion Jose Aldo not to mention wins over both Edgar and previously undefeated featherweight contender Brian Ortega.

Obviously new challenges present themselves all the time so Holloway is probably looking at a pair of fights over the next year that include showdowns against heavy-handed Australian Alexander Volkanovski and Russian prospect Zabit Magomedsharipov.

That said, Holloway has already separated himself from the pack at featherweight and it’s going to be awfully hard for anyone to take away that championship from him. Holloway might cringe at being called the best featherweight of all time but his gaudy list of accomplishments are making it really hard not to call that out every time he fights.

Cyborg Reborn

The conversation surrounding Cris Cyborg just two days after her win at UFC 240 will mainly concern her future after fighting out her current contract to reach free agency in her career. While that topic obviously merits attention, Cyborg’s performance over a game Felicia Spencer should not be overlooked.

Coming back from a vicious knockout courtesy of Amanda Nunes in her last fight, Cyborg had a lot of questions to answer — none more important than whether or not she could bounce back after suffering such a shocking defeat. Cyborg only had one other loss on her resume and that came during her first professional fight.

Cyborg answered everything with her fight on Saturday night as she battered Spencer for all three rounds and she was even forced to battle through some adversity following a nasty cut that got opened up on her forehead during the first round.

While the commentary made it seem like Cyborg was in more trouble than she actually was at any time during the fight, the ferocious former featherweight champion was completely dominant while out landing Spencer more than 3 to 1 in total strikes. Spencer should be credited for her unreal durability but she never really threatened Cyborg at any time during the fight outside of that elbow strike in the opening round.

Cyborg proved she’s still one of the best fighters in the world and that will remain the same whether she’s fighting in the UFC or not. All signs seem to point towards Cyborg exiting the Octagon and perhaps looking towards a reunion with former promoter Scott Coker or maybe even entertaining an offer from a promotion like ONE Championship.

Hopefully, the UFC makes it a priority to bring Cyborg back because she’s still one of the top draws in the women’s divisions not to mention the only real challenge for Nunes if they intend to keep the featherweight division alive.

Savage Undercard

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

UFC 240 didn’t feature a ton of big names outside of the main and co-main event but there were several highlight reel performance on the undercard and preliminary card that deserve attention.

Geoff Neal remained undefeated in the UFC with his back-and-forth war against Niko Price that ended with a vicious ground-and-pound finish. Hakeem Dawodu earned a well-deserved performance bonus after he head kicked his way to a jaw-dropping finish on the preliminary card.

One more name that deserves some attention after Saturday night is flyweight prospect Gillian Robertson, who earned her fourth win and fourth finish since joining the UFC roster by way of “The Ultimate Fighter”. At 24 years old, Robertson is still very young in her career but she’s lived up to her nickname as “The Savage” by mauling her opponents en route to three submissions and a TKO victory on Saturday night at UFC 240.

Robertson is the kind of young, talented fighter that the UFC needs to nurture over the next couple of years rather than throwing her to the wolves just yet. She did suffer a loss two fights ago but Robertson bounced back with two more impressive performances in her last pair of fights.

As Valentina Shevchenko continues to run roughshod over the top contenders at 125 pounds, up and coming prospects like Robertson are going to be vital to the success of this division as a whole. Given the right time to develop while working with the world class group of coaches and fighters at American Top Team, Robertson seems like a contender worth watching for the future.


Flyweight Flounder

For the first time in a long while the noose hanging around the neck of the UFC flyweight division has been loosened with all signs that the weight class will be sticking around for the foreseeable future. After gutting the roster by dropping so many fighters that it was impossible to fill out a top 15 for the division, the UFC has recently added some new talent at 125 pounds with UFC president Dana White saying he believes Henry Cejudo’s next title defense should come against top ranked flyweight contender Joseph Benavidez.

That’s all good news for the fighters competing at 125 pounds but unfortunately the UFC had a golden opportunity to showcase a pair of top five flyweight fighters on Saturday night but the matchup between Deiveson Figueiredo and Alexandre Pantoja was buried on the preliminary card.

Obviously not every fight will earn a marquee spot on a pay-per-view, especially when some cards are absolutely stacked with top 10 ranked fighters. That wasn’t the case at UFC 240 because Figueiredo vs. Pantoja was actually the highest ranked matchup outside of the main and co-main events.

The flyweights even ended up earning ‘Fight of the Night’ honors for the crazy back and forth war, which made the situation that much more frustrating in the end.

If the UFC really is going to revamp the flyweight division and keep it around beyond 2019, fights like this one have to get some attention. The only way the flyweight division survives is if people are excited to see these fights and that’s not going to happen if two of the best fighters in the weight class are buried on the undercard.


Retired Excuses

Esther Lin, MMA Fighting

One of the biggest stories to come out of UFC 240 had nothing to do with the fighters on the card but rather the news that Hall of Famer B.J. Penn would be returning for another fight later this year against Nik Lentz.

Penn has dropped his past seven fights in a row with his last win coming in 2010 and while he’s not getting knocked out every time he steps into the Octagon, he’s still absorbing a ridiculous amount of damage. Following his last loss, UFC president Dana White said that he just couldn’t give Penn another fight in good conscience considering the way he’s looked in recent years.

White then reversed course this past weekend by saying that Penn terrorized him with calls and text messages asking for one more chance under the condition that win, lose or draw, he would retire afterwards. White also lashed out at reporters who were concerned about Penn’s health by noting that he only wanted opinions from medical professionals and not members of the media.

As a promotion, the UFC can book whoever they want, whenever they want but when White is calling for former middleweight champion Luke Rockhold to retire and hinting at the same thing for former bantamweight champion Holly Holm while booking Penn for another fight following seven straight defeats, something is clearly off.

Penn is a legend so it’s understandable that he wants to go out on a win rather than seven straight losses but at some point he needs an advocate on his side to say enough is enough.

White promises that no matter the result he’s done giving Penn fights after his next one but it’s abundantly clear there’s no plan in place to believe that’s actually the case after wildly inconsistent decisions have led to the former two-division champion getting his third fight in the past nine months.