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INSIGHT THE OCTAGON: ELBOWS IN ALBERTA

By Lou Finocchiaro  () 

Edmonton hosts this week’s UFC 240, where we’ll get a glimpse of local Canadian mixed martial artists on top of a main event that is going to be a classic old school vs. new school; styles make fights kind of matchup.

There are many in the MMA world moaning about the depth of talent on this card yet from the mid-1980s to the early 2000s I was without fighting as my love for boxing had finally been usurped from me after countless disappointments all revolving around graft, greed and avarice.

So, when the UFC offers the public 40-plus fight cards per year each laced with some 12-13 fights, I roll my sleeve up to handicap because there

is always value on a UFC card if one does the research.

Champion Max Holloway -425 vs. Frankie Edgar 325

Featherweight Title (145 pounds)

From 2014 to date, Holloway has run through the diversely talented featherweight division like Grant through Richmond, but of all the dynamic fighters he’s taken out one name has escaped him: Frankie Edgar.

This will be the third time Holloway vs. Edgar has been scheduled. Basic bad luck has forced each fighter to postpone the fight for injury-related reasons. Saturday night we finally get to watch this epic matchup go down.

Holloway is 10 years the younger man, he’s five inches taller and has the same reach advantage with legs. Holloway’s size, length and proven ability to fight a frenetic full five frames make him a sure favorite in any featherweight fight. Whether he should be -425 against a legend like Edgar, we’ll see soon enough!

Edgar arrives, as always, the shorter, overlooked underestimated wrestling-based fighter with disadvantages all over the page yet all he has done for over a decade is dominate the lightweight and Featherweight divisions. Edgars’ size should not be equated in any way to his fighting ability for Frankie is a world class wrestler with dynamic boxing, Muay Thai and BJJ skills that have been forged in fire over 13 years in professional MMA.

The Edgar plan is simple, use unrelenting forward pressure to tax Max, back him up and work his body to kill his head. Mauling, wrestling, groping and clasping from inside is the Edgar approach for it both eliminates Holloway’s length and therefore his striking effectiveness (both legs and arms) and it will force the champion to exert himself on defense instead of measuring Edgar up from afar.

Let’s remember Holloway fought an incredibly brutal battle in his last fight against Poirier at the lightweight level of 155 pounds, where he took considerable damage. He’s always looked a little drawn and gaunt at previous 145-pound weigh-ins, so I’m particularly interested in how he looks this week after fighting such a physically taxing fight up a division against a guy whose power was clearly affecting him.

Holloway’s a proud warrior and his plan should be to maintain the spacing necessary to counter Edgar on the way in and dice him up from distance. Instilling damage over time to sap the strength from the mighty mauler is how Aldo pieced Edgar up, so the blueprint has been set.

That said I feel Holloway could get drawn into the “let’s do this thing’ and just stand there to entice Edgar. If this happens Holloway will be providing Edgar the only real opportunity, he has to earn victory Saturday. This fight SHOULD display Holloway’s fight IQ but will Holloway stick to the plan of distance and movement once the bell for round one rings or will he be possessed by pride and try to take Frankie out?

This bout opened Holloway -350 and will possibly continue rising slightly until fight time. I handicap Holloway a firm -270/-295 for this fight as he should be the chalk. With that stated, the case for Edgar involves a potentially worrisome weight cut for Holloway followed by an overly prideful manner of fighting, which I believe is possible because Holloway is a warrior and may choose put on a show.

This fight comes down to Edgar’s unrelenting will and forward pressure against Holloway’s execution of fluid movement and precision distance striking. UFC fans will be provided everything they ever wished for in a five-round main event spectacle Saturday night at UFC 240.

A weakkneed weigh-in for Holloway, coupled with a 350 (or better) price on Edgar are the basic requirements needed to consider playing Edgar, so I’ll wait patiently to determine if both transpire.

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