Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar are both easy candidates for the UFC Hall of Fame when their careers are said and done, and they fought like it on Saturday in the UFC 240 main event in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
Edgar did everything he could to take the fight to Holloway, but the champion fought his style to perfection, keeping the UFC featherweight title wrapped around his waist.
Edgar started strong, bridging a significant distance disadvantage by sliding in and out, landing quick combinations. He frequently followed his punch combinations with a low kick to Holloway’s lead leg.
Holloway didn’t respond much early, but when he found his rhythm, he landed some hard uppercuts and worked in hooks to Edgar’s body.
The first round was close, but Edgar did a great job pressing forward, as Holloway employed his reach to his advantage.
The second round saw Holloway step up his attacks to the body, while simultaneously employing his jab to greater effect, setting up more punch combinations.
Edgar continued his assault on Holloway’s lead leg, but Holloway did a better job slipping his punches and countering them as the round wore on. Edgar shifted gears a bit, searching for a takedown on a couple of occasions, but Holloway stopped the attempts and frequently countered them with a right hook.
Holloway punctuated round two with a spinning back kick to the midsection.
Both men appeared to settle into a groove in round three, but Holloway started to step up his attacks in the final two minutes of the round, overwhelming Edgar with combinations. Just as he looked to put the pedal to the floor, Edgar saw an opening and took Holloway to the canvas.
Edgar managed to land a few punches before Holloway worked his way back to his feet just before the end of the round, but didn’t appear to do much visual damage.
After three rounds, the fight was fairly close with neither fighter able to try and safely coast through the championship frames. Neither could confidently leave it in the hands of the judges.
Edgar continued to dart in, trying to find an opening for his punches, and landed several overhand rights, but ate several jabs for his efforts, his nose leaking blood.
Edgar landed a solid combination in the final minute of the fourth frame, but it only seemed to awaken the Hawaiian, who landed combination after combination for the next 15 or 20 seconds.
Edgar pressed Holloway to the fence, but the featherweight champion again punctuated the frame with a spinning back kick to the midsection, as he had at the close of round two.
The fight was still close going into the final frame, although Holloway seemed to be more productive fighter, using his reach advantage to outstrike Edgar throughout most of the fight.
Edgar knew he was behind on the scorecards heading into round five, as he came out trying to light up the fight, pressing forward with kicks and again leaping in with punches. Though he landed occasionally, it was still Holloway’s jab that was the weapon of measure.
Every time Edgar would leap in and land, Holloway would drive a sharp jab to his face, frequently following with a right cross. The final horn sounded with Edgar’s face wearing Holloway’s handiwork all over it, the accumulation of punches bruising and bloodying him.
Edgar fought well, but couldn’t overcome Holloway’s distinct advantage both in height and reach.
When Bruce Buffer read the scorecards, the judges had it 50-45, 50-45, and 48-47 in favor of Holloway, who won his 14th consecutive bout at featherweight.
“Everybody said I wasn’t going to be able to wrestle with this guy. Everybody said that I wasn’t going to be able to go with his pace. I wanted to go five rounds with him just to prove a point,” said Holloway, who made the third consecutive defense of the UFC featherweight championship, though he was coming off of a loss to Dustin Poirier for the UFC interim lightweight title in his most recent trip to the cage.
“Frankie is a true warrior. Give it up for this guy. He’s the man that inspired me to be here.”
Despite Holloway’s respect, it was a hard loss for Edgar, who knew that he was bested by a better fighter on Saturday night. Though the emotion of the moment felt like Edgar might be considering the end of his stellar career, he was resolute in stating that we haven’t seen the last of him yet.
“I don’t (what’s next) man,” said Edgar. “I need to go back to the drawing board. I’m not done. I’ve got a lot of fight left in me man. Max Holloway is the best in the world.”