UFC 240: Max Holloway looking forward to fighting old 'idol' Frankie Edgar

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UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway spoke with Sporting News ahead of defending the belt against Frankie Edgar at UFC 240.

UFC 240: Max Holloway looking forward to fighting old 'idol' Frankie Edgar

UFC featherweight champ Max Holloway spoke with Sporting News ahead of defending the belt against Frankie Edgar at UFC 240.

A little less than seven years ago at UFC 150, Frankie Edgar was looking to regain the lightweight title from Benson Henderson in the headliner. Who kicked off the main card you might ask? None other than Max Holloway, who took on Justin Lawrence.

The then-20-year-old began the pay-per-view, winning by second-round TKO. Edgar didn't fare as well, losing a split decision that many felt should have gone his way.

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Fast forward to Saturday night and Edgar is in another championship fight and standing across the Octagon will be Holloway, as he puts his featherweight title on the line in the main event of UFC 240 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Never in his wildest dreams did Holloway ever imagine that one day he would be taking on someone he looked up to this immensely.

"No, not at all," Holloway told Sporting News. "He’s a legend. He’s the man. It was crazy that I watched this guy when he won his title. It’s like that old saying, ‘They are your idols until they become your rivals.' And now we are here and main eventing a pay-per-view card against each other. It’s just crazy. I’m excited."

As Holloway (20-4-0) said, Edgar (23-6-1) is viewed as a legend in the sport. Edgar made three defenses of the lightweight belt totaling 687 days, which is the longest reign at 155 pounds in UFC history. Usually, the Toms River, N.J. native was the smallest man inside the cage, often coming in at around 160 pounds on fight night. Seeing he was at a disadvantage, Edgar dropped down to featherweight, where he's 8-3 and fighting for the featherweight title now for the third time — still competing at a high level at 37.

"He’s a great man, not only inside the cage but outside the cage as well," Holloway said. "This is a guy who has a great story. He’s a straight-up guy, a family man and I respect him so much because of that. There are no stories like his that compete inside the Octagon. At the end of the day, this is a fight that really helps me. I’m trying to leave a legacy in the sport like him."

Even as the champion, Holloway is coming off a loss in a back-and-forth war with Dustin Poirier at UFC 236 in April in an interim lightweight title bout that was one of the best fights of 2019 thus far. The loss snapped his 13-fight winning streak.

Holloway (20-4) watched the fight a couple of times. He knows what he did wrong, but doesn't want to take anything away from Poirier's performance, as he was the better man that night.

"You got to take something from it," Holloway admitted. "I look at the loss as a learning curve. It is what is. Right now, I can tell you a bunch of reasons of what went wrong and this and that, but I’m not a complainer. That’s not cool to Dustin. He won fair and square. He got the decision. At the end of the day, it is what it is. I just move on and love life. Sometimes fighting is like Chutes and Ladders — sometimes you got to slide on the slide to climb up a bigger ladder. And that’s what I’m going to do.

"I’m not afraid of hard work," he continued. "It took me 10 straight wins to get a title shot and it was an interim title shot that only happened because the main event on the card was a title shot and they got hurt."

One of the narratives heading into UFC 240 has been Edgar doesn’t deserve the shot at Holloway because he got knocked out by Brian Ortega at UFC 222 in March 2018 and only garnered one win (against Cub Swanson in April 2018) in the interim to get another crack at featherweight gold.

Holloway has heard the talk. He feels Edgar deserves the opportunity and has a rebuttal for those who don't agree with his assessment.

"Some fans have said he should be fighting me. Some have said he shouldn’t get a fight with me. I’m not a matchmaker," he countered. "This guy is a legend. His fights speak for themselves. He’s been dominant. I just can’t wait to get in there. I tell people this is the fight the UFC sent over to me. I see what people have been saying. The champion, though, doesn’t get to pick the fights. The UFC picks who I’ll face. They send me a contract and I just sign it."

A win over Edgar extends Holloway's winning streak at 145 pounds to 14 and adds another former champion to his resume. In three consecutive fights, Holloway battered and destroyed former lightweight titleholder Anthony Pettis (at UFC 206) and former featherweight kingpin Jose Aldo (at UFC 212, UFC 218).

For "Blessed," it's not just about being the best at one weight class. It's about being regarded as something higher and beating Edgar inches him closer to what he's genuinely looking to do.

"It does a lot," Holloway said. "It gets me one step closer to being the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. I’m not trying to be the greatest featherweight of all time. I’m not trying to do that. I’m trying to be the greatest fighter of all time. To add Frankie’s name on my belt would be amazing."

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