It's a matchup that has been made on two previous occasions, once in December 2017 (Edgar pulled out with an injury) and later in March 2018 (Holloway pulled out with an injury). Edgar has won three of his past four matchups, most recently a unanimous decision victory against Cub Swanson in April 2018.
But his one win in the past 18 months pales in comparison to Alexander Volkanovski's three -- against Jose Aldo, Chad Mendes and Darren Elkins. At 20-1, he's on a 17-fight win streak and had a legitimate chance at fighting next for the belt. Should he have been given the opportunity?
We asked this question to ESPN's MMA contributors -- Ariel Helwani, Brett Okamoto, Marc Raimondi, Jeff Wagenheim and Phil Murphy -- for their takes.
Helwani: My feelings about this decision remind me of how I felt when the Knicks traded Kristaps Porzingis earlier this year (sorry, it's NBA draft lottery day. I have a one-track mind, but stay with me here ...). Initially, I was confused and upset. After all, title shots shouldn't be lifetime achievement awards. A one-fight winning streak should never trump a 17-fight winning streak. Is this sport or just politics? And then when you consider Edgar hasn't fought in 13 months, and Volkanovski is 3-0 since then with wins over the likes of Jose Aldo (who is 2-0 against Edgar, mind you) and Chad Mendes ... it's truly one of the more baffling decisions the UFC has made recently.
Also, this idea that they are repaying Edgar for taking a risk against Brian Ortega last year and losing? That makes zero sense to me. What was the point of that fight if he was going to get the title shot anyway? But, a day after the Porzingis trade, the dust began to settle, and I realized that you can't judge the trade until we see how the summer plays out. If the trade opened the door to signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, I love it. So, if this decision leads to a Volkanovski title fight in Australia under a Robert Whittaker vs. Israel Adesanya unification bout, I'm all in. That makes way more sense than Holloway vs. Volkanovski in Edmonton.
The truth is, it's hard to really be mad about this because Edgar is a class act and one of the best fighters ever. He is a legend and has had his fair share of heartbreak. There are few better people in MMA. I'm genuinely happy for him, but I'm also sad for Volkanovski because he's done everything asked of him and then some. He has legitimately earned the next shot at Holloway. Let's see how it plays out later this year.
Okamoto: I wrote this in my What's Next column after UFC 237 on Sunday, and my opinion hasn't changed: I'm OK with Frankie Edgar getting a title shot as long Alex Volkanovski is up next, and doesn't have to fight in the meantime. I'm OK with it because of Edgar's decision to risk his title shot on short notice against Brian Ortega last year, and timing in general.
Edgar had a well-deserved title shot back in March 2018. That's a fact. At that time, he had won seven of his past eight. Holloway got injured, and Edgar could have chosen to pull out of UFC 222 and wait for him. Instead, he agreed to put his shot on the line against Ortega and got caught by a perfectly thrown elbow. I'm not saying we should just scrub over that loss, but I do think Edgar's willingness to put a guaranteed title shot on the line should be calculated into the situation.
Holloway is ready to defend his title on July 27. Although I was told Volkanovski would have been willing to fight that soon, he just fought last weekend, which was his third fight in 10 months. There is a also a chance the UFC goes back to Australia later this year for the Robert Whittaker-Israel Adesanya fight. What if Volkanovski ends up getting his title shot in his home country? We have to see how this plays out, but as long as Volkanovski is next up after July 27, I'm not outraged over Holloway vs. Edgar.
Raimondi: Edgar was absolutely the right choice in this spot. This was supposed to be his fight for the title twice before. The last time, Holloway had to pull out and Edgar did the UFC a solid by accepting a fight with Brian Ortega -- one he didn't need for his résumé - that he ended up losing by knockout. It's only fair after Edgar's dominant win over Cub Swanson, not to mention his incredible career overall, that the UFC repays him what he deserved in 2018.
Alexander Volkanovski has a better case on paper at this point for a shot at Holloway, but he just fought over the weekend, beating Jose Aldo. He's going to need some time off, and there's no reason why he wouldn't fight the winner of Holloway vs. Edgar down the road. My lone concern about this UFC 240 fight has nothing to do with Edgar -- it has to do with Holloway. Will he be physically ready three months after a bloody war with Dustin Poirier at UFC 236? I hope so.
Wagenheim: Hey, at least Edgar is coming off a win this time. Back in 2013, he challenged Jose Aldo for the belt while riding a two-fight losing streak. The same scenario played out in 2017, when Holly Holm was booked for the inaugural women's featherweight title fight while coming off a pair of defeats. Through the years, several fighters have been granted title shots directly after losses, including Nick Diaz, Miesha Tate, Dan Henderson, Alexander Gustafsson and Daniel Cormier. And speaking of DC, he was involved in the granddaddy of all wrongheaded championship matchmaking, when Brock Lesnar, winless for nine years, was being positioned to challenge him.
Still, dozens of wrongs don't make a right. So at the risk of never being able to return to my New Jersey homeland: No, Edgar ought not be fighting for the belt. I love watching the man every time he steps inside the Octagon -- that footwork! that resilience! -- and I know I'm not alone in counting the (75) days until we get to see Max and Frankie dance. But championship competition, at its purest, is not a popularity contest. Company man, shumpany man.
The real question here: Why are we still surprised that UFC title fight matchmaking is driven by money, not merit?
Murphy: Both of these things can exist: Frankie Edgar is the right choice to face Max Holloway at UFC 240, and Alex Volkanovski's next fight will be for the featherweight title. As long as the latter is true, I don't have a problem with the former.
Volkanovski going to Rio de Janeiro and quieting the raucous home crowd, handing José Aldo his first career decision loss, earns Volko a crack at Holloway outright or the Holloway-Edgar winner this fall. The title shot is what's important in his next fight, not the opponent.
A five- to seven-month layoff is right in line with Volkanovski's pacing since joining the UFC. A feature or co-feature bout for the belt in Abu Dhabi, Australia or New York City was the plan, whether or not Holloway defends the belt between now and then.