Five Questions with Phil Chertok: The UFC 240 Edition

Phil Chertok discusses this Saturday's UFC 240 event with Max Holloway defending the featherweight title against Frankie Edgar and last week's standout performances.

This Saturday, the UFC returns to Canada with the UFC 240 pay-per-view event from Edmonton, Alberta. For a pay-per-view card, it doesn’t have significant depth without the top two fights led by the return of Max Holloway to the featherweight division. The 145-pound champion meets Frankie Edgar with a strong possibility it will be the latter’s final opportunity for another UFC championship.

Former UFC featherweight champion Cris “Cyborg” Justino look to bounce back from her sudden knockout to Amanda Nunes this past December. It was Justino’s first loss in MMA since her pro debut in November 2005. She enters this fight with Canadian Felicia Spencer as the heavy betting favorite.

Phil Chertok spoke with us about the key fights at UFC 240 and the performances that stood out from this past weekend’s card in San Antonio, Texas.

Phil will be back on Saturday night alongside John Pollock for our UFC 240 POST Show on the site.

POST: Leon Edwards has now won eight consecutive fights in a deep weight class, but doesn’t seem like one of the stars of the division, why is that? 

Phil Chertok: There’s probably a combination of factors. First, Saturday night’s win over former Lightweight Champion Rafael Dos Anjos was only Edwards’ second fight in the United States. Second, most of Edwards’ victories have come via decision, it’s hard to make leave an impression in peoples minds if you can’t make the highlight reel. Lastly and probably most important, he’s not particularly vocal outside the Octagon. Welterweight is filled with a plenitude of interesting characters including several former lightweight contenders, so creating a buzz by making as much noise as possible is a necessity for a fighter like Edwards.

As a consumer, are you able to separate Greg Hardy’s history of domestic violence with his fighting abilities? And, is this a larger problem the UFC will continually need to confront as he has bigger fights?  

I am able to separate Greg Hardy’s past from his role as an MMA fighter. While I may not like the resolution of how his domestic violence case concluded, it was within the law and I firmly believe in second chances even if I find the crime committed to be disgusting. Hardy’s past will continue to come up and it will never be something that will go away but I don’t really feel that the UFC needs to worry about this being a larger problem. They already faced a multitude of criticism for his first fight where he was incomprehensibly put on the same card as Rachael Ostovich, who had recently gone to authorities accusing her partner of abuse. The UFC weathered that storm with no damage and I don’t see those clouds getting worse.

Max Holloway returns to the featherweight division this Saturday to defend his title against Frankie Edgar, is this your preferred weight class for Holloway? 

I like Max Holloway at featherweight but I do feel like there is still an opportunity for him to contend at lightweight. Much was made of his move up to fight Dustin Poirier for the interim lightweight title in April. It definitely appeared that Dustin carried more power into that fight and the weight played a big factor. It’s important though to recognize that Poirier himself was previously a featherweight and it took some time until he got into is groove at 155 pounds. I don’t like the idea of fighters bouncing up and down between weight classes but when the time is right, I’m totally behind Max moving up to chase another title. Until then, Max should stick to 145 and try to establish his legacy as the greatest featherweight of all time.

What would a victory for Frankie Edgar this Saturday mean for his overall legacy? 

Frankie Edgar has already established himself as a future UFC Hall of Famer for his improbable lightweight championship run and some of his legendary all-time great fights. A victory over Max Holloway and the second piece of gold would catapult Edgar into the all-time pound for pound great discussion. Edgar has always been undersized for both the 155 and 145-pound divisions and his continued success has been a testament to his work ethic, self-belief, and dedication. For years it’s even been suggested that Bantamweight is his natural weight class so if he does the unthinkable and beats Max this weekend, he’s probably set himself up for something that once seemed improbable, an opportunity to become the first UFC fighter to win titles in 3 divisions.

What other fights on the UFC 240 are you intrigued by and why? 

Two fights are really piquing my interest. The first is Cris Cyborg vs. Felicia Spencer. This is Cyborg’s last fight on her UFC contract and it’s also her first fight since losing to Amanda Nunes. Seeing how she bounces back and what her plans are for her career post-Saturday night are both very intriguing. Continuing on the theme of ‘bouncing-back’, Gavin Tucker makes his return to the Octagon nearly 2 years since suffering his first defeat in what was one of the most brutal losses I’ve ever seen. Tucker showed a lot of potential prior to his first loss and even in that fight, he demonstrated a ludicrous amount of heart. I think to take a long time off after such a vicious bout was a good idea and I’m eager to see how Tucker comes back and if he’ll still be a top prospect.

Tune into the UFC 240 POST Show this Saturday night with John Pollock & Phil Chertok here on the site.