This Saturday night Edmonton plays host to the latest UFC pay-per-view event as one of the most dominant champions in the UFC returns to defend his title once again.
Max “Blessed” Holloway’s achievements as the UFC’s 145-pound world champion now put him above previous belt-holders Jose Aldo and Conor McGregor as the greatest featherweight champion in UFC history.
The amiable Hawaiian looks to further cement his legacy by defending his title against former lightweight world champ Frankie “The Answer” Edgar.
Edgar is a veteran of the game and one of the most respected fighters in the sport. A former lightweight champion who competed at 155 pounds because at the time there was no featherweight class for him to fight in, Edgar consistently faced bigger, stronger opposition earlier in his career, yet still became a world champion.
Now he’s fighting in his natural weight class, looking to capture a world title in a second weight division and seal his place as one of the sport’s all-time greats.
Few would begrudge the New Jersey scrapper that honour, but in Holloway, Edgar is facing one of the most dominant champions in the UFC today.
The Hawaiian has looked in irresistible form at 145 pounds, with only a decision loss to Dustin Poirier at 155 blotting his copybook in recent years.
As a featherweight, Holloway hasn’t lost in almost six years, and he plans on keeping it that way against Edgar.
Both men set a relentless pace, both have prodigious cardio and an ability to fight at full pelt for the full five-round title fight duration. But, Holloway probably has just that little bit extra to make the difference on fight night.
He’s younger, fresher, less battle-weary and is still improving, that’s why he’s my pick to retain the title on Saturday night. Edgar has been stopped just once with strikes in his UFC career, and I believe he has what it takes to push Holloway all the way to the scorecards.
Ultimately, though, I believe it’ll be Max who has his hand raised.
Bet of the bout: Max Holloway to win on points: 5/2
Farewell finish for Cyborg?
Cristiane Justino, known to the MMA world as Cris Cyborg, was previously the most feared female athlete in the UFC. Then she ran into Amanda Nunes.
Now looking to bounce back after her shocking knockout defeat to “The Lioness,” Cyborg takes on fellow featherweight contender Felicia Spencer in Saturday night’s co-main event fight.
And with this bout being the last fight on her current UFC contract, there has been much talk about the Brazilian’s fighting future after this bout.
I believe this could be her last fight for the UFC, with a move to Bellator – and their stronger, deeper 145-pound class – looking like an ideal next move for Cyborg. She said she will speak more freely and talk about her plans after this weekend’s fight but, make no mistake, she’s coming into this weekend with a BIG point to prove.
Spencer is tough, gritty and more than prepared to grab a hold of you and drag you to the mat. But I’m not sure she will be able to outstrike Cyborg on the feet. And without that ability to stand and trade on equal terms with the Brazilian, any hopes of using her grappling are going to be substantially reduced.
Expect Cyborg to come out all guns blazing in the fight, then again in the post-fight press conference as she earns a powerful stoppage win, then announces her imminent departure from the UFC.
Bet of the bout: Cris Cyborg to win by KO/TKO: 3/10
The Hybrid to beat the odds again?
Niko Price has upset the odds on more than one occasion inside the UFC octagon, and I fancy he might do the same again this weekend.
The American welterweight is big, strong and very powerful at 170 pounds, and against fellow countryman Geoff Neal, “The Hybrid” could find himself in another exciting back-and-forth clash.
Price’s only defeats have come to the superb Brazilian Vicente Luque (via submission) and the concrete-handed Abdul Razak Alhassan (by KO). But, he’s proved he’s more than capable of standing and trading with just about anyone in his career so far.
His last win, a first-round KO of veteran striker Tim Means, proved that Price is not to be underestimated, which is why seeing him as an 11/5 underdog was particularly attention-grabbing.
Price has only gone to the scorecards once in his career, and has finished nine of his 13 wins in the first round. With nine knockout victories to his name overall, the 5/1 odds on a Price win via KO/TKO simply look too good to pass up.
Bet of the bout: Niko Price to win by KO/TKO: 5/1