After an unsuccessful bid for Lightweight gold, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) Featherweight ruler Max Holloway returns to his home division to face the inimitable Frankie Edgar inside Rogers Place in Edmonton, Canada, headlining UFC 240 on pay-per-view (PPV) this weekend (Sat., July 27, 2019). UFC 240’s PPV co-main event pits former “Baddest Woman on the Planet,” Cris Cyborg, against rising submission specialist Felicia Spencer, while Lightweight blue-chipper Arman Tsarukyan faces Canada’s own Olivier Aubin-Mercier in a clash of top grapplers.
ESPN 2 will hosts four of UFC 240’s “Prelims” undercard bouts (check out the Fight Pass portion here), which are dissected for your pleasure below.
125 lbs.: Alexis Davis vs. Viviane Araujo
Now in her twelfth year as a professional, Alexis Davis (19-9) finds herself on an 0-2 skid since a successful UFC Flyweight debut against Liz Carmouche. “Ally-Gator” gave a good account of herself both times, however, fighting division standouts Katlyn Chookagian and Jennifer Maia to competitive decisions.
All eight of her submission wins have come by either armbar or rear-naked choke.
Despite a career spent at Strawweight, Viviane Araujo (7-1) stepped up on short notice to face Bantamweight Talita Bernardo at UFC 227. “Vivi” wound up dominating the fight before scoring one of the greatest knockouts in UFC women’s history, a one-punch finish that marked her fourth straight stoppage win.
She has submitted four pro opponents and knocked out another three.
Davis is still a UFC-caliber fighter, but still hasn’t fixed her key issue of not having the wrestling necessary to consistently implement her lethal ground game. Though she packs some solid leg kicks and overall Muay Thai on the feet, she’s badly outgunned by the power-punching Araujo, who boasts superior movement and a killer jab alongside her edge in sheer force.
Despite these women being only two years apart in age, this looks for all the world like a passing of the torch. Araujo out-speeds, out-slugs and out-lands Davis on her way to victory.
Prediction: Araujo via unanimous decision
145 lbs.: Hakeem Dawodu vs. Yoshinori Horie
The strong run in World Series of Fighting (WSOF) for Hakeem Dawodu (9-1-1) made him a top prospect when he joined UFC in 2018, only for him to suffer a 39-second submission loss to Danny Henry in London. He has since picked up a pair of decisions over Austin Arnett and Kyle Bochniak in just his second and third trips to the judges.
All six of his stoppage wins have come by form of knockout.
The undefeated (6-0) Pancrase run for Yoshinori Horie (8-1) hit a roadblock last year in the form of UFC veteran Issei Tamura, who put him away with heavy right hands early in the second round. The 24-year-old proceeded to dispatch Masaya Takita and Hiroshige Tanaka in less than six minutes combined, his fourth and fifth first-round finishes.
Just one of his last seven fights has gone past the second round.
This is the most lopsided fight on the “Prelims” odds-wise and I can’t say that I agree. Horie is a blisteringly fast and powerful young striker who looks to be a handful for most of the division on the feet. Dawodu should still get the win, being a more seasoned and versatile Muay Thai artist, but this is not a -390/+320 fight.
Horie’s counter right will be Dawodu’s greatest area of concern, but once “Mean” Hakeem’s body attack starts flowing and evens up the speed battle, he should take over. Expect a neck-and-neck first round before Dawodu puts in enough attrition to land his knockout blows.
Prediction: Dawodu via second-round technical knockout
145 lbs.: Gavin Tucker vs. Seung Woo Choi
Gavin Tucker (10-1) entered the Octagon with some hype behind him, having stopped eight of his nine professional foes, and spent his first 15 minutes as a UFC competitor out-classing Sam Sicilia in eye-catching fashion. The victory led to oddsmakers labeling “Guv’nor” a huge favorite against Rick Glenn, only for “The Gladiator” to unleash a massive beating that resulted in a 10-7 third round on one scorecard.
This will be his first fights since that Sept. 2017 defeat, as injury scrapped a planned return against Andre Soukhamthath in Oct. 2018.
Seung Woo Choi (7-2) avenged his sole career loss and claimed the TFC Featherweight title by knocking out Jae Woong Kim in Dec. 2017. He made his short-notice UFC debut in St. Petersburg last April against top prospect Movsar Evloev, who out-wrestled his man to claim a unanimous decision.
Five of his professional wins have come via (technical) knockout, three of them in the first round.
There are a lot of intangibles working against Tucker here. Skill-wise, he’s a slick enough striker to give the iron-tough “Sting” everything he can handle, not to mention some wrestling chops with which to further defuse the Korean’s offense. He’s also about four inches shorter, giving up eight inches of reach, hasn’t fought in almost two years, and was on the wrong end of the beating of a lifetime against Glenn.
A tough, relentless slugger with the cardio to keep up the pressure all night seems like the exact wrong opponent against which to end a layoff. Choi’s length and volume carry him to victory in a fight that starts competitive and quickly becomes less so as Tucker fatigues.
Prediction: Choi via unanimous decision
125 lbs.: Alexandre Pantoja vs. Deiveson Figueiredo
Alexandre Pantoja (21-3) — the No. 1 seed on The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 24 — picked up a pair of wins over future Octagon competitors before dropping a decision to Hiromasa Ogikubo in the semifinals. He is 5-1 in the Octagon itself, most recently stopping former title challenger Wilson Reis last April in Atlanta.
His 16 stoppage wins are split 9:7 between submissions and knockouts.
Deiveson Figueiredo (15-1) lived up to his moniker with brutal knockouts in three of his first four Octagon appearances. This set up a battle with Jussier Formiga last March, which saw the Brazilian “God of War” struggle with his foe’s vaunted grappling en route to his first-ever professional loss.
Eight of his 15 stoppage wins have come in the first round.
If Henry Cejudo has indeed saved the Flyweight division, then he has my un-ironic gratitude, because this is one of many excellent possible match ups. Pantoja is generally plenty aggressive, while Figueiredo is one of the promotion’s most entertaining fighters in any weight class.
This is a war waiting to happen. And as you’d guess from the nickname, Figueiredo is rather good at those.
Pantoja’s crisper and more versatile striking technique isn’t enough to offset Figueiredo’s heinous punching power, and while “The Cannibal” is no slouch in the wrestling department, Figueiredo excels at scrambling back to his feet. Once the takedowns prove ineffective, expect Pantoja to engage the ever-aggressive Figueiredo on the feet and ultimately pay the price.
Prediction: Figueiredo via second-round technical knockout
Holloway vs. Edgar is basically volume-punching porn, it’s always fun to watch Cyborg in action, and Neal vs. Price is practically guaranteed to get some sort of post-fight bonus. Sounds like a quality Saturday to me! See you then, Maniacs.
Remember that MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC 240 fight card this weekend, starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. ET, then the remaining undercard balance on ESPN 2 at 8 p.m. ET, before the pay-per-view (PPV) main card start time at 10 p.m. ET on ESPN+.
To check out the latest and greatest UFC 240: “Holloway vs. Edgar” news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive right here.