Canada is bringing us UFC 240 and it looks to be a good one! We have Max Holloway, Chris Cyborg, and three other hot matches! While this card may not bring crazy star power sat first glance, every fight has that five-second knockout potential and you need to keep your eyes on each of these great matches!
Max Holloway vs. Frankie Edgar (FTW)
There is no one at the Featherweight division like Max Holloway (20-4, 16-4 UFC). He doesn’t have one-shot KO power and he doesn’t have stellar submission skills, but he boxes like no one else can. He just dances in and out of range, never letting his opponent get a shot off. He can work well from both southpaw and orthodox and fires leg kicks too to soften his opponent. What sets Max apart is the cardio and pace that he forces his opponent to try to maintain for five rounds, which they simply cannot do against him.
Longtime veteran Frankie Edgar (23-6-1, 17-6-1 UFC) will finally face Max in a match that was canceled back at UFC 222. “The Answer” meshes striking with his wrestling game to tire his opponent and wear them down. His gameplan is best when he can execute his wrestling and not have to worry about a counter-threat from his opponent, but he also has a dominant volume with his strikes.
This match is pretty easy to predict. Holloway wants to keep this striking and he has had skill with that, using impeccable takedown defense to keep the fight where he wants. Holloway works well of counters and when he uses his own pressure, and only turns up the pace the farther the fight gets in. Although Edgar’s wrestling and striking are incredibly elite, they are not at the level of Max’s striking and the movement he utilizes to put in his own shots and fight off his opponent’s.
Take the Shot: Max Holloway via Unanimous Decision
Cris Cyborg vs. Felicia Spencer (FTW)
Cris Cyborg (20-2, 5-1 UFC) is one of the scariest people on the planet. Period. She has powerful boxing, but it also is incredibly technical and well though out. She also has an elite BJJ game, but it has never been seen because of just how powerful she is. She can end the fight with one punch and responds best when dictating the fight. However, it will be interesting to see how she starts this out after falling to Amanda Nunes after blitzing her in the opening seconds.
The Octagon debut against Megan Anderson went swimmingly for Felicia Spencer (7-0, 1-0 UFC), who submitted Anderson inside the first round. “Fee-Nom” is a wrestler who combines that wrestling skill with great grappling and submissions. She uses domination and has the advantage when she can dictate the fight and use her ground control to pace the match.
Although Spencer is a legit wrestler and competitor, it’s hard to see a path to victory. It is hard to hold someone as strong as Cyborg down and that’s even if she can get the match there. Cris will have a heavy advantage on the feet and her pressure will make it difficult for Spencer to get off her own wrestling. Even on the ground, Cyborg can handle herself, but I just don’t see it going there.
Take the Shot: Cris Cyborg via Round 1 Knockout
Geoff Neal vs. Niko Price (WW)
We have another Contender Series breakout in Geoff Neal (11-2, 3-0 UFC) coming in with a lot of hype behind his name. Neal is almost exclusively a boxer, who uses volume mixed with power to finish the job. “Handz of Steel” has found his success with boxing because of his ability to avoid takedowns, with an impressive takedown defense rate of 91%. He banks on his southpaw stance for a lot of success, counting on his opponents to feel off balance and isolated so he can use his striking and defense to dictate the fight on the feet.
Full disclosure: Niko Price (13-2, 5-2 UFC) is by far and away my favorite fighter in the UFC. He has serious power off his front and back foot and can end the fight from any position, no matter how unorthodox. Just look at the Randy Brown fight, where he knocked Brown out off his back by hammerfisting his opponent up against the cage. Price also has a great ground game with an underrated submission threat, but I don’t see any of this match playing out on the ground.
I am trying my best to take my bias out here, but I think Price will get the job done. As much as the Handz of Steel moniker may suggest, Neal does not have the one-punch KO power that Price does and will need to rely on his volume. As Neal’s career moves forward, the success he gets from only his Southpaw stance will decrease against the more experienced fighters and I see that being the case here. Price is a monster to try to stand and trade with and uses a diverse striking pool of kicks that Neal has not yet had to deal with, as well as a ground game if the match does go there. I see the power and counters of Price closing the show when Neal tries to rush in looking for a finish.
Take the Shot: Niko Price via Round 2 Knockout
Olivier Aubin-Mercier vs. Armen Tsarukyan (LW)
Perennial Canadian star Olivier Aubin-Mercier (11-4, 7-4 UFC) will look to right a two-fight losing streak that saw him drop decisions to Gilbert Burns and Alexander Hernandez. OAM is a ground specialist, taking home eight wins by sub as well as a good striking style, but lacking in defense. He mixes up his striking well, but offers a lot of kicks that have seen him exploited by wrestlers.
Armen Tsarukyan (13-2, 0-1 UFC) had a nightmare draw in his UFC debut against Islam Makhachev, who holds the record for least strikes absorbed in all of the UFC, as well as being best friend to Khabib and having the second-best wrestling game in the Lightweight division (to Khabib). Tsarukyan could not have done better in a loss, taking down Makhachev for the first time in his MMA career and demonstrating an amazing scrambling ability that saw the two elite wrestlers grappling in a wildly entertaining fight. Tsar isn’t just a wrestler though, he fights out of Tiger Muay Thai and has violent striking and a brutal kicking game, but was unable to execute it against one of the best fighters of the division in Makhachev.
OAM has a bad habit of being exploited by good wrestlers and I don’t see that being different here. Tsarukyan made the fight competitive against Makhachev who could walk circles around OAM with his ground game, so I see the wrestling advantage easily going to Tsar, especially with that scrambling ability I value so much. On top of that, the Muay Thai of Tsar should be seen easily here, as he will be able to open up more against OAM, who has not been hard to hit.
Take the Shot: Armen Tsarukyan via Round 2 Knockout
Krzysztof Jotko vs. Marc-Andre Barriault (MW)
After the one-sided beating Krzysztof Jotko (20-4, 6-4 UFC) handed to Alen Amedovski in his last fight, I thought he deserved a top 15 opponent. Instead, he will be drawing a fighter whose only Octagon experience is a debut loss, albeit an entertaining one. To be fair, that was his first win in four fights, a losing streak topped off with knockouts to Uriah Hall and Brad Tavares. Jotko looked incredible in his last fight with a revitalized style after seeing a sports psychologist. We saw him more willing to lean on his wrestling ability, while still having the great movement and speed in striking that keeps him competitive in all areas.
Marc-Andre Barriault (11-2, 0-1 UFC) lost his debut to Andrew Sanchez, but represented himself well, landing a knockdown and making the fight close in the third. “Power Bar” is mainly a striker with fearsome power, but has struggled to find the volume and ground game to make himself a real threat. Every win of his that did not end in a knockout went to a split decision.
I am a big fan of Power Bar and think he is a fun fighter with a live knockout chance at any moment. However, he is facing an improved version of his last opponent. Jotko has incredible wrestling and speed in his striking, able to win the fight from any area. Even in his losses, he has represented himself well until eating a shot. He has given up that style and gone back to what made him a fighter in the first place, with Krys Jotko fighting like Krys Jotko. His wrestling and volume will make this a hard match for Power Bar unless the Canadian can land one of his big shots.
Take the Shot: Krzysztof Jotko via Unanimous Decision
These will be fun matches, mark my words!
Until next time, Freaks.