Big news for one of MMA’s most exciting and talent-rich divisions. Now that rising contender Alexander Volkanovski has defeated former UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo, winning his seventh straight fight in the UFC and extending his overall winning streak to 17, we’ve finally settled on the next challenger for Max Holloway’s 145-pound title. Obviously, it’s Frankie Edgar.
Wait, what? As in, the same Edgar whose winning streak is currently holding steady at one in a row? The same Edgar who went 0-2 against Aldo, the guy who just happens to be Volkanovski’s latest victim? You’re telling me he’s the top contender after spending the last 12 months not fighting?
Apparently, yeah. Edgar is up next for Holloway at UFC 240, as we learned on Monday. Which kind of makes you wonder why we even bothered with a bout that sure looked like a battle for the top contender spot at UFC 237. Also makes you wonder how much timing plays into all this.
For one thing, Volkanovski’s victory party got cut short in the worst possible way. He reportedly developed a fever on his flight out of Rio de Janeiro, and was hospitalized for a “blood infection” during a stopover in Chile. That doesn’t exactly help his chances of making a quick turnaround to challenge for Holloway’s belt. It also just sounds like a miserable experience to live through.
But imagine being in the hospital in a foreign country, feverish and suffering, when you hear the news that someone else is getting your title shot. Would you wonder if this was your fault? Would you wonder if maybe you needed to finish that fight, or somehow magically avoid getting sick immediately afterwards?
Or would you wonder if this plan had been in motion well before you stepped into the cage, and kept quiet so as not to drain your pay-per-view fight of all its implied stakes?
If it was the blood infection that scuttled Volkanovski’s hopes for the next title shot, that’s a depressing prospect. Is that really how it works in the UFC? You have to beat an extremely tough opponent in order to prove you really deserve a crack at the belt, but then you also have to be healthy and ready to sign on the dotted line on the Monday following the fight or else you get passed over in favor of someone who just sat around and waited?
The alternative, of course, would be for the UFC to put the next featherweight title fight off until the clear top contender is ready. If that won’t be for many, many months, then fine, at some point you have to move on. But if it only takes 48 hours for everyone to forget about you after you beat a guy like Aldo, that’s a cold way of doing business.
It might also be necessary for the sake of the UFC calendar. There are a lot of events on a lot of Saturday nights over the next few months. And if every pay-per-view needs a title fight, maybe the UFC feels it can’t afford the luxury of waiting for contenders who have actually earned their shots within the scope of recent memory.
Instead, you settle for the best available. Whatever it takes to get two warm bodies in the cage and a shiny gold belt on the poster.
Besides, Edgar as a nostalgia choice isn’t so awful. He’s been really, really good for a really long time. And he did the UFC a solid by taking on Brian Ortega as a replacement opponent when he didn’t have to at UFC 222, so maybe this is some form of payback.
And Volkanovski, he of the prodigious winning streak and the infected blood? He could still get dibs on the winner when he recovers. You know, maybe. As long as nothing crazy happens between now and then.
And what are the odds of that, in this business where crazy sometimes feels like business as usual?
- Alexander Volkanovski in 'good spirits' after being hospitalized in Chile due to infection
- A Brazilian journalist's poignant reflection on covering UFC 237
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Source: USA Today – MMA Junkie
Read the full article here: Alexander Volkanovski's latest win proves who deserves the next UFC featherweight title shot, and it's … Frankie Edgar?