Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:57 PM
UFC 240 - Best Bets
When Frankie “The Answer” Edgar makes his 25th career walk to the Octagon for Saturday’s UFC 240 main event in Edmonton, a Hawaiian champion will follow him in hopes of defending his featherweight belt.
A similar thing happened at UFC 112 in Abu Dhabi, where Edgar ended B.J. Penn’s iconic run through the lightweight division. The New Jersey native sent Penn’s career into a downward spiral from hell months later at UFC 118.
This time around, Max ‘Blessed’ Holloway (20-4 MMA, 16-4 UFC) faces Edgar after tasting defeat for the first time since he was beaten by Conor McGregor at UFC Boston on Aug. 17 of 2013. Dustin Poirier ended Holloway’s incredible 13-fight winning streak when they went the five-round distance at UFC 136, winning a unanimous decision by scores of 49-46 from all three judges.
As of Friday afternoon, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas had Holloway installed as a -370 favorite, with Edgar at +285 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $285). The total was 3.5 rounds (‘over’ -125, ‘under’ +105).
The 27-year-old Holloway had moved up to 155 pounds to take on Poirier for the interim lightweight belt, attempting to become the promotion’s latest double champ. Although he failed, Holloway remains on a 13-fight winning streak in the 145-pound loop.
His pace and pressure were still there against Poirier, but the Lafayette, La., product’s size and power were too much for Holloway on that night in Atlanta.
Holloway will attempt to successfully defend his featherweight strap for the third time. He won the belt from long-time division kingpin Jose Aldo via third-round knockout at UFC 212 on June 3 of 2017. Then at UFC 218 in Detroit, Holloway turned the same trick, dusting Aldo with another third-round KO.
For his second title defense after dealing with a health issue that forced him to pull out of his initial booking with Brian Ortega, Holloway bested the previously-undefeated Ortega by fourth-round KO (doctor stoppage). Holloway set a UFC record for most strikes landed with 307.
‘Blessed’ has 10 career KO victories and a pair of submissions. His most notable wins have come over Aldo (twice), Ortega, former lightweight champ Anthony Pettis, Ricardo Lamas, Jeremy Stephens, Charles Oliveira, Cub Swanson, Cole Miller and Leonard Garcia.
Holloway has lost to Poirier twice, including in his UFC debut when both were at featherweight. His other defeats have come to McGregor by unanimous decision and to Dennis Bermudez via split decision. The only time he’s been finished was when Poirier submitted him with a mounted triangle armbar.
Edgar (23-6-1 MMA, 17-6-1 UFC) enters this title fight after the longest layoff of his career. He defeated Cub Swanson for a second time on April 21 of 2018, winning by UD with scores of 30-27 across. That was a bounce-back spot for Edgar, who had lost by first-round KO to Ortega his previous time out.
Edgar has struck out twice in both title shots he’s received in the featherweight division. In his 145-pound debut, Aldo defeated him by UD (49-46, 48-47, 49-46) at UFC 156. Edgar responded by promptly ripping off five consecutive wins, including a third victory over Penn and triumphs over Oliveira, Swanson, Urijah Faber and Chad Mendes.
That run garnered Edgar a rematch with Aldo at UFC 200, but the Brazilian prevailed again by UD. Since then, ‘The Answer’ has a 3-1 record with wins over Stephens, Yair Rodriguez and Swanson.
Before moving down to featherweight, Edgar fought 13 times at 155 pounds, compiling a 9-3-1 record. As previously noted, he won the lightweight strap with a UD win over Penn and then beat him more decisively in another UD triumph at UFC 118. He made his second title defense against Gray Maynard, miraculously surviving seven knockdowns in the opening stanza. Edgar rallied to retain his belt in a split draw.
In the rematch at UFC 136, Edgar got dropped multiple times in the first round yet again. This time around, however, Edgar rallied and finished Maynard by fourth-round KO in Houston. Then in Japan for UFC 144, Edgar lost his strap to Benson Henderson via UD.
In the rematch at UFC 150 on Aug. 11 of 2012 in Denver, Henderson captured a split-decision victory in controversial fashion. VegasInsider.com scored the bout 49-46 in Edgar’s favor.
Both fighters hit their 145-pound mark at Friday’s weigh-ins.
Prediction: I like Edgar’s chances here for multiple reasons. First, he is the best wrestler Holloway has faced in his entire career. Secondly, Holloway was just soundly beaten by Poirier on April 13. He took a lot of punishment in that bout and this is a quick return. Furthermore, we’ve seen Edgar fight into the championship rounds (Rounds 4 and 5) 10 times during his storied career. He’s posted a 3-4-1 record in eight title fights, going past the third round in multiple main events in which a belt wasn’t at stake. I believe Edgar will utilize his wrestling en route to a decision victory. Let’s go with one unit on Edgar at +300 (William Hill).
In the co-main event, Cris Cyborg (20-2-1 MMA, 5-1 UFC) returns to the Octagon for the first time since losing her featherweight belt to Amanda Nunes, who handed her a first-round KO loss in merely 51 seconds. It was Cyborg’s first defeat since her MMA debut on May 17 of 2005.
The former featherweight queenpin in the UFC, Strikeforce and Invicta FC is fighting on the last bout of her contract in this spot. She’ll take on Felicia Spenser, who was a +550 underdog Friday afternoon at the Westgate. Cyborg was an enormous -800 ‘chalk,’ while the total was 1.5 rounds (‘under’ -185, ‘over’ +155).
Cyborg has 17 career KO victories and three decision wins. The most notable victories of her career have come over Gina Carano, Charmaine Tweet, Marloes Coenen (twice), Leslie Smith, Luna Lansberg, Tonya Evinger, Holly Holm and Yana Kunitskaya.
Spenser (7-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) enjoyed a spectacular UFC debut on May 18, submitting Megan Anderson with a rear-naked choke at the 3:24 mark of the first round. It was Spenser’s fourth career submission victory. She has one win by KO and two via decision.
Before signing with the UFC, Spenser defeated Pam Sorenson with a fourth-round submission (RNC) to win the Invicta FC Featherweight title. The 28-year-old kickboxer has black belts in both Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and Taekwondo.
Prediction: Cyborg has been feuding with Dana White in the media for weeks. At issue is whether Cyborg declined to accept a rematch offer with Nunes. White says she did and that “she’s afraid to lose to Nunes again.” Cyborg said this week that White has never been in the cage, adding that he’s tried to ruin her brand. Whatever the case, Cyborg has consistently stated that she will explore her options in free agency after this fight with Spenser. White told the media earlier this week that he’d be willing to sign Cyborg to a rare one-fight contract to rematch Nunes. It all adds up to a lot of conversation about Cyborg’s future and little about her undefeated opponent. Oh, and there’s also that little matter of Cyborg getting KO’d for the first time in her career seven months ago. I smell an upset here. Give me one unit on Spenser for the +550 return. If we get a split out of Edgar and Spenser, we still profit nicely.
Let’s also go with two units on the Niko Price-Geoff Neal scrap to go ‘under’ 1.5 rounds at a -125 price. We’re risking 250 to win 200 here. Five of Neal’s last seven bouts have gone ‘under’ 1.5 rounds, while 10 of Price’s 16 career fights have ended in the opening stanza. Also, let’s get a one-half unit taste of Price as a generous +285 underdog.
B.E.’s Octagon Nuggets
-- After losing his third straight fight to Dan Hooker at UFC San Antonio last weekend, James Vick has decided to move up to the welterweight division.
-- Former middleweight champ Chris Weidman will make his debut in the 205-pound loop against Dominick Reyes in the UFC Boston headliner on Oct. 18.
-- The headliner for UFC Mexico City on Sept. 21 will feature an exciting matchup between ‘T-City’ Ortega and The Korean Zombie.
-- Another main event was booked this week, with Jack Hermansson scheduled to face Jared Cannonier in a middleweight contest at UFC Copenhagen.
-- After Penn's loss to Clay Guida six weeks ago, White insisted that "he can't do it again" when asked if we saw Penn's final career bout in the UFC that night. Nevertheless, White confirmed to Aaron Bronsteter that Penn and Nik Lentz have verbally agreed to fight each other. Bronsteter tweeted that the location and time were to be determined, but White mentioned Abu Dhabi in his video interview with Bronsteter. Abu Dhabi would be UFC 242 on Sept. 7. Since his first loss to Edgar at UFC 112, Penn is 1-9-1 in 11 fights. The lone victory came via first-round KO over Matt Hughes in the fellow UFC Hall of Famer's final career scrap at UFC 123 at The Palace of Auburn Hills outside of Motown.