UFC 240 has come and gone, and while the preliminary card was really entertaining, the main card was hit-and-miss, and we don’t pay $60 for the prelims.
Anyway, Max Holloway successfully defended his featherweight title with a unanimous decision (50-45, 49-46, and for some reason 48-47) over Frankie Edgar. It was not a scintillating performance in the same way that we’ve seen Holloway dispatch Jose Aldo twice and Brian Ortega, but he stopped all but one of Edgar’s 14 takedowns, and landed the overwhelming majority of the total strikes and the best strikes. His jab was on point and he made Edgar pay significantly for failed takedowns with clean punches on the exit. Edgar was as tough as ever, fittingly getting his lone takedown on the heels of being badly hurt in round three. His best moments were repeated low kicks and quick combination work, but he barely fazed Holloway and was offensively outgunned.
I can’t wait for Holloway vs. Alex Volkanovski. That’s going to be a fascinating contest and quite conceivably the toughest title defense to date for “Blessed.” As for Edgar, who was consoled by his son Santino in the post-fight interview, that might have been his last run at a title. He says he still has a lot of fight in him, and I don’t disagree, I just don’t see a scenario that ends with him with UFC gold wrapped around his waist again.
More thoughts below:
- I want to first applaud Felicia Spencer for a spirited effort, cutting Cris Cyborg and showing a level of insane toughness we’ve seldom seen out of previous Cyborg foes. That said, this fight wasn’t remotely close and Joe Rogan (who was TERRIBLE all night) was uniquely irritating on this one. You’d have thought Cyborg was in need of an oxygen mask three minutes into the bout when in reality, it was a shellacking. We kept hearing fictitious concerns about Cyborg’s confidence, cardio, overreaction to the few strikes Spencer connected on (post-cut)… it was complete bullshit. Spencer did well to go the distance, but Cyborg was still ahead by a country mile. Now we wait and see if her future is in the UFC or elsewhere.
- What a war between Geoff Neal and Niko Price! We basically had a double knockdown in round one in unusual fashion, as Neal hurt Price and they subsequently clashed heads, with Neal taking the worst of that collision. They brawled to start round two, but Price went for an ill-fated guillotine and got wiped out with ground-and-pound. That was as fun as advertised, and Neal is a welterweight to watch. I think he’s destined for a top-10 ranking within his next two fights.
- Lightweight prospect Arman Tsarukyan won a unanimous decision over Olivier Aubin-Mercier in a mostly dismal fight that won’t get another sentence of analysis out of me.
- Polish middleweight Krzysztof Jotko won a split decision over Marc-Andre Barriault in an absolutely dismal fight that won’t get another sentence of analysis out of me.
- Despite Joe Rogan’s ridiculous commentary, Viviane Araujo wasn’t nearly as gassed as he thought she was, and was able to outstrike veteran Alexis Davis for a unanimous decision win. That’s a big win for Araujo, who will enter the women’s flyweight rankings next week by beating the #7 ranked Davis. Amazing what she did based off of Rogan’s assertion that she was exhausted for almost the fight.
- Hakeem Dawodu started slowly, but once he found his timing and range on the awkward Yoshinori Horie, the featherweight prospect put a hurtin’ on Horie, capped off with a spectacular knee-head kick combo KO in the final round. Dawodu, who had a nightmare UFC debut, has won his last three, with Horie representing his first finish inside the Octagon.
- Thanks to a point deduction for an illegal knee, featherweight Gavin Tucker needed round three in order to get the win over Seung Woo Choi. He did better than that by continuing his success on the ground, securing a rear-naked choke after flattening Choi out. It’s his first fight since that brutal beating vs. Rick Glenn, and he relied on his wrestling and grappling heavily for the W here.
- Deiveson Figueiredo and Alexandre Pantoja delivered the goods (Update: And it won Fight of the Night honors… good thing they didn’t kill the division!). That was as exciting as it figured to be on paper, and holy shit are Figueiredo’s standing elbows absolutely lethal. A deserved decision win for Figueiredo in this battle of Brazilian flyweights.
- On the Fight Pass prelims, ex-featherweight contender Erik Koch had a successful welterweight debut with a surprisingly clinch-heavy decision win over Kyle Stewart. Canadian flyweight Gillian Robertson improved to 4-1 in her UFC career by outgrappling and then elbowing the bejesus out of Sarah Frota for the second-round TKO finish.
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