UFC 240 will be remembered as the night two of the sport’s icons reclaimed their place in the win column.
Max Holloway retained his Featherweight title in a dominating performance against over Frankie Edgar, furthering his claim that he is the single best 145-pound fighter in the world. Holloway’s last fight was in the Lightweight division, where he came up short against Dustin Poirier, but he bounced back with a win that saw him control all five rounds against Edgar.
The co-main event of Cris Cyborg against Felicia Spencer exceeded expectations.
Cyborg won by unanimous decision, but Spencer absorbed an unhealthy amount of punishment and came close to pulling off the upset by tiring out Cyborg. The win likely sets up a rematch of Cyborg and Amanda Nunes for the Featherweight championship.
The card was quickly turning into a massive disappointment after the first two fights, as middleweights Krzysztof Jotko and Marc-André Barriault combined for a lackluster opener and the lightweight fight pitting Arman Tsarukyan against Olivier Aubin-Mercier also failed to meet UFC pay per view standards.
The fight that brought life to this card was between Geoff Neal and Niko Price. Although that bout didn’t even last two full rounds, the two welterweights engaged in a slugfest that saw Neal win after a furious flurry of punches. The win should catapult Neal into the Welterweight rankings.
The prelims were carried by a dominating performance by women’s Flyweight fighter Gillian Robertson, who is quickly transforming from underdog into favorite, as well as a win by Hakeem Dawodu. Robertson crushed Sarah Frota, and Dawodu claimed victory after a head kick ended Yoshinori Horie’s night.
But UFC 240 was always thought of as a two-card fight, and that is exactly how the card played out.
Relive UFC 240 through SI.com's live blog below:
Holloway defeats Edgar via unanimous decision — 1:12 a.m.
Round 5: Max Holloway retains his UFC Featherweight title in a unanimous decision victory over Frankie Edgar.
Speed, timing and execution all worked in Holloway’s favor. Somehow, the champ never missed. As tough as Edgar is, he simply does not reside in the same elite stratosphere as Holloway; though, in his defense, very few do.
There was never a moment when Holloway was not in control. Edgar wanted this fight for a long time, but as tough as he is, he could not overcome Holloway.
Edgar did note in his post-fight interview that he is not finished fighting, but a rematch with Holloway is unlikely.
Holloway now moves on to his next challenge at Featherweight, after teasing the idea of moving to heavyweight to challenge champion Daniel Cormier. His length and distance are problematic with any opponent, placing Holloway in an elite place among fighters.
Round 4: In order for Edgar to win this fight, he needs to take chances in the fifth and final round.
This fight has belonged to Holloway, which means nothing more than a footnote if he cannot close. Edgar pressing forward and staying aggressive is going to be a key to the fifth round, but there are few better defenders than Holloway.
This fight has delivered, and we still have one more round to go.
Round 3: Edgar simply doesn’t have the reach of Holloway. He finally took Holloway down onto the mat late into the third round, which was his first successful takedown in seven tries. Holloway quickly made his way back to his feet, and his offensive assault in the third round should also give him the third round.
Edgar needs to create some offense in order to keep any chances of victory alive.
Round 2: Two rounds in, Holloway has controlled the fight. He punctuated the end of round two with a spinning back kick.
Round 1: So far, this is Holloway’s fight.
Holloway kept his distance from Edgar in round one, staying long and looking to capitalize on any opening.
Edgar dropped a couple good right hands on Holloway, but nothing like the uppercut landed by Holloway.
Will Edgar make a concerted effort to go after the legs in round two? Or does Holloway continue to do damage with that uppercut whenever Edgar leans forward?
The main event is upon us.
After waiting two-and-a-half years, now is the time for Max Holloway and Frankie Edgar to create magic in the Octagon.
Holloway looks to get back into the win column by defending his Featherweight title against Edgar. A massive favorite, Holloway is consistent in the cage, and it's difficult to determine which version of Edgar is going to show up.
Holloway should come out swinging and take this fight by TKO, but Edgar has an iron jaw. A wrestling match certainly favors Edgar, so Holloway will be looking for the knockout.
Cyborg outlasts Spencer via unanimous decision — 12:15 a.m.
Round 3: And we’re right back to where we started: a unanimous decision for Cyborg.
The fight was fantastic, and serves as a real eye-opener for anyone who questioned whether Spencer could compete against elite fighters. Spencer absorbed an incredible amount of punishment, but the fight ended in a familiar sight with Cyborg’s hand raised in victory.
That win now opens the door for a rematch between Cyborg and Amanda Nunes.
Round 2: We have an upset brewing.
Cyborg is tiring as Spencer continues to withstand all of her offensive assault.
Spencer hasn't been able to gain any significant advantage, but that could change quickly if she is able to take control of a tired Cyborg in round three.
Round 1: Cris Cyborg’s first time in the Octagon in 2019 is underway.
Cyborg is tagging Spencer with a flurry of fists, yet Spencer has somehow withstood those shots. Cyborg has attacked Spencer’s head, legs and body, while most importantly, has kept the fight off the mat.
Spencer tagged Cyborg with an elbow that cut open her forehead, leading to a bloody Cyborg. But if Spencer is going to win this fight, she needs to bring it to the mat.
The second round is going to be very interesting, as Cyborg is showing her ring rust and looks far more tired than normal after only one round.
Time for the first of the two co-main events, as Cris Cyborg looks to enhance her legacy—and Felicia Spencer looks to create one of her own.
Strange as it is to see Cyborg in a featherweight fight without the title, this fight has all the makings of a Cyborg unanimous decision.
But Spencer has a shot here to rewrite the narrative in the women’s division and turn the page from Cyborg.
It’s hard to ever count out Cyborg, but if Spencer controls the pace and gets this fight on the mat, then there is a strong possibility that Spencer can pull off a monumental upset.
Spencer needs to pressure Cyborg, who despite her incredible streak of wins, does not deal well with adversity. Does Cyborg impose her strengths and re-enter the win column? Or is tonight the beginning of the Spencer era? As lackluster as the card started, it has the chance to end on an extremely high note.
Neal TKOs Price — 11:41 p.m.
Geoff Neal and Niko Price just combined for the best round of the night.
The two welterweights both had chances to put the fight away in the opening round, with Neal and Price tagging each other with some power punches.
The second round quickly turned into a brawl, which allowed Neal to hit a barrage of shots to win the fight by TKO. The flurry of punches from Neal lit up the crowd and should propel him into the welterweight rankings.
In the post-fight interview, Neal explained his philosophy: “F--- it, let’s throw some punches.”
That fight added some energy to 240 as we approach the two matchups that fight fans are hungry to see.
Tsarukyan defeats Aubin-Mercier by unanimous decision — 11:15 p.m.
Round 3: UFC 240’s first two fights go the distance, but do not have much to show for it.
Tsarukyan forced Aubin-Mercier to spend the majority of the third round on his back, which was the difference. The 22-year-old Tsarukyan takes another step forward, this time in UFC’s Lightweight division by defeating Aubin-Mercier by unanimous decision.
Round 2: Aubin-Mercier hit a knee to Tsarukyan’s face in round two, which was the most impact thus far of the fight.
The 240 card has been a disappointment thus far, though there is still plenty of time—and two major fights—for that to change.
Round 1: Tsarukyan-Aubin-Mercier also started off slowly, with Aubin-Mercier having the slight early edge. The crowd in Edmonton is ready for some action, which hopefully we’ll see in round two.
Next-up: Arman Tsarukyan vs. Olivier Aubin-Mercier in lightweight action.
Aubin-Mercier calls himself “The Canadian Gangster” and his strength is his ability to make opponents submit. At 30 years old, he has eight years on Tsarukyan, but is also a slight underdog. Tsarukyan knows how to finish a fight, and the explosive 22-year-old will be looking for a knockout win.
Jotko beats Barriault via split decision — 10:44 p.m.
Round 3: Barriault-Jotko combined for an underwhelming open to UFC 240. Hopefully, it's not any indicator for the rest of the card—but that fight was certainly not worth paying to see.
There was more action in the third and final round, but that will go down as one of the weaker opening card matchups for a major fight card.
Jotko narrowly won the fight by split decision, marking his second straight win. But that fight did more harm for either fighter, and it's hard to picture Jotko seriously challenging for the Middleweight title.
Round 2: Two rounds in, and the crowd in Edmonton is starting to turn against this Barriault-Jotko fight.
Neither fighter separated himself in the second round. Barriault tagged Jotko with a couple right fists, and Jotko appeared to gain some momentum with a knee to the gut, but there isn’t much separation—or excitement—in this bout.
Round 1: Our opening fight is between middleweights Krzysztof Jotko and Marc-André Barriault.
Barriault and Jotko have shown glimpses of an exciting fight, but the first round was a stalemate. We’ll see how each fighter adjusts in the second round, but that was a slow opening round.
UFC 240 finally provides Max Holloway the chance to lock up inside the Octagon with Frankie Edgar.
Holloway’s Featherweight title is on the line, but Edgar’s career is also likely at stake. If the 37-year-old Edgar has no answer for Holloway, it's certainly possible that tonight is the night he decides to retire.
The other noteworthy fight at 240 is the women’s featherweight matchup pitting Cris Cyborg against Felicia Spencer. A win will enhance Cyborg’s legacy, but it is also interesting that this is the last fight on her current deal with the UFC. Will a win encourage her to stay and challenge Amanda Nunes? Or does she look even better walking away from the UFC following a victory?
The rest of the card does not hold much depth. The fights are certainly even, which is a credit to the matchmaking, but they are unlikely to get any of these fighters to the next level. The best of the bunch is the welterweight fight between Geoff Neal and Niko Price, which should be a slugfest.
But there is no doubt that UFC 240 is a two-fight card, especially with Holloway-Edgar. Two-and-a-half years in the making, it is finally time to see that fight take place.