UFC 240: Analysis and Predictions

Max Holloway vs Frankie Edgar

Featherweight Title Bout

Max Holloway (20-4) (Champion) (-425)

Frankie Edgar (23-6) (#4 Ranked) (+340)

Max Holloway defends his featherweight title against Frankie Edgar in bout that many have anticipated for years.  Edgar is somewhat fortunate to have this shot.  He’s unquestionably still elite at featherweight, but many though surging contender Volkanovksi would get the nod first.  This fight is also interesting because Holloway is coming off of his first loss in years.  He was soundly defeated by Dustin Poirier back in April in a fight at lightweight.

If it wasn’t for Holloway’s loss in April, this fight would be a no-brainer pick for Holloway.  He was absolutely dominant before his matchup with Poirier and there was no reason to expect that to change.  However, the Poirier fight really changed my perception of Holloway.  Poirier absolutely dominated Holloway on the feat in the first two rounds.  The only thing that kept in the fight was his unbelievable chin.  Much was made about Poirier’s power as a natural lightweight being the difference maker, but for me the most shocking part was the speed advantage.  You would assume the naturally lighter fighter would have a speed advantage, but Poirier consistently beet Holloway to the punch, and Holloway showed that his head movement desperately needs improvement.  Holloway reminds me in so many ways of the Diaz brothers, who have excellent boxing, but depend far too much on their chin as opposed to their head movement to get them through fights.  This really makes me think that Holloway’s days are numbered as a champion at featherweight, and I’m concerned about what a faster striker such Volkanovksi can potentially do to him.

Luckily for Holloway, he isn’t fighting Volkanovski, or any other young fast rising prospect for that matter.  He’s fighting a talented, but older and more shop worn fighter.  At 37 and seemingly beginning to show signs of slowing down, I think this is going to be a much easier outing for Holloway.  Edgar may still have the speed advantage in this fight, but he’s not carrying the same firepower as Poirier.

Expect to see Holloway engage in his usual approach of walking down his opponent and engaging with volume.  He’s going to get tagged by Edgar doing this, but his chin is going to hold up and the constant jabs are going to wear down Edgar who has a more suspect chin at this stage.  Edgar may get the best of early exchanges, but late in the first and moving into the second, the jab for Holloway is going to be landing regularly.  Edgar may get through the second but he is going to be bloody and bruised.  The end will come somewhere in the 3rd.

Holloway by 3rd Round TKO

 

Cris Cyborg vs Felicia Spencer

Women’s Featherweight Title Bout

Cris Cyborg (20-2) (Champion) (-670)

Felicia Spencer (7-0) (+485)

There really aren’t many people for Cris Cyborg to fight at 145 and thus we have Felicia Spencer in just her second UFC fight taking on one of the greatest female mixed martial artists of all time.  Spencer may seem outmatched here, but I think there are some unusual factors leading into this fight that will make it more interesting than most people think.

The biggest of these is that I believe Cris Cyborg is past her peak as a mixed martial artist and is beginning to decline.  Strict USADA testing in the UFC probably plays into this, but she has also just been fighting for a long time.  She’s 34 years old, with 24 professional fights, and coming off a devastating KO loss to Amanda Nunes.  It’s not unusual to see fighters never fully recover from their first big KO loss, and I think it will be interesting to see what form of Cris Cyborg we get in the ring on Saturday.

Counterbalancing this is the fact that Felicia Spencer, while certainly a special talent, is getting catapulted into this position sooner than she probably should be due to the lack of depth at 145 in the UFC.  Spencer looked good in her first outing in the UFC, scoring a first round submission over an always game Megan Anderson.  However, I think many people, myself included, felt this win was more of a reflection of Anderson’s lack of a ground game than anything else.  Credit Spencer for taking this fight to where she had the biggest advantage, and winning decisively from this position, but it doesn’t help me figure out if she has any chance of not getting decapitated by Cyborg if the fight stays standing for any length of time.

I think this fight will be closer than most people think.  Spencer will probably have a chip on her shoulder coming into this fight and will be eager to prove she deserves to be here.  Cyborg on the other hand is likely to be more cautious in first outing after a KO loss.  I believe Spencer will be successful in turning this into, minimally, a clinch battle in the first round.  I could see this fight turning into a slow grind as things get out of the first, with only a few major shots landing each round.    Ultimately though, I think the skill and experience of Cyborg is going to make the difference in this fight.  She may not land much, but she will get in some hard shots throughout the fight and Spencer is going to start to wear it as the fight drags into the later rounds.  Spencer gets through this fight, but she ultimately losses the decision.

Cyborg by Unanimous Decision 

 

Alexandre Pantoja vs Deiveson Figueiredo

Flyweight Bout

Alexandre Pantoja (21-3) (#3 Ranked) (+100)

Deiveson Figueiredo (15-1) (#4 Ranked) (-120)

Well poop, I’ll be honest here, I don’t know a whole lot about either one of these fighters.  I had largely stopped following the flyweight division last year when it seemed certain that it was going to disappear from the UFC.  Little did I know an extremely dominant and cringe-worthy Henry Cejudo would be all it took to rejuvenate the entire division.  Since I can’t give a great analysis here, I’ll tell you the little that I do know.

Alexandre Pantoja was a contestant on the Ultimate Fighter where he made it to the semi-finals ultimately losing to Ogikubo by decision.  Despite the setback Pantoja has had a good run since signing with the UFC.  He’s 5-1 in the promotion with his only loss coming to Dustin Ortiz.  He’s a well-rounded  fighter with a blend of TKO and submission victories.  He’s coming off a win over Wilson Reis at UFC 236 back in April

Deiveson Figueiredo is also Brazilian fighter.  He comes from an impressive BJJ pedigree being the former BJJ Brazil Northeast champion.  Despite this high level grappling he is a fighter that seems to love to stand and bang, winning the majority of his fights by KO or TKO.  He’s coming off a unanimous decision loss to Jussier Formiga back in March.

I’m really not sure how to call this one.  Just glancing at the records Figueiredo seems to have fought the better competition, but he’s also coming off a loss.  I’m going to go with Figueiredo to take the decision here in a primarily standup bout.

Figueiredo by Unanimous Decision