The UFC is back for another fun Apex card with a short notice main event in the bantamweight division between Song Yadong and Ricky Simon.
Song comes into this fight looking to bounce back after defeat last time out in his first UFC main event, with his professional record of 19-7-1 coming at the ripe old age of 25 years old.
He’ll face a Ricky Simon who is on fire with five-straight wins, amassing a professional record 20-3 as he looks to push into the upper end of the rankings to get to an eventual title shot.
Last time out at UFC Vegas 71 we got the main event pick wrong between Sergei Pavlovich and Curtis Blaydes. You can see our full pick history here.
We’ll look to put that right here in this very intriguing match-up, with big top five consequences for the winner.
Recent fight history
Song Yadong had been absolutely flying in recent times, winning three fights in a row heading into his most recent bout.
He claimed a split decision win over Casey Kenney at UFC 265, before earning back-to-back knockout wins over Julio Arce and then Marlon Moraes. Then he ran into Cory Sandhagen however, who pieced him up on the feet and showed the levels to earn a stoppage victory in his most recent fight.
Simon on the other hand comes into this one on a five-fight winning streak, including ending the unbeaten run of Jack Shore most recently via submission. Prior to that he knocked out Raphael Assuncao, beat Brian Kelleher in a dominant decision, submitted Gaetano Pirello and beat Ray Borg via decision too.
Much like last week’s main event, this is a real clash of styles with Song Yadong being a really solid boxer with active striking while Simon is a stout wrestler with tremendous takedowns.
Yadong has great volume and has shown he is capable of putting on a strong pace, however his power is also underrated and he has got real knockout power.
He trains at Team AlphaMale, meaning his wrestling is strong and defensively he should feel confident of dealing with the wrestling of Simon.
But Simon is one of the most relentless wrestlers in the division with great technique and power, as well as fantastic cardio to push the boundaries for as long as necessary.
His striking has certainly improved in recent years too and he uses those techniques to set his wrestling up more nowadays, but striking with Song would be a very odd game plan.
Much like last week, this will come down to whether Simon can get the takedown early and be able to hold Song down.
Curtis Blaydes crazily didn’t shoot for a takedown until he was already hurt and it cost him, but Simon is very experienced and surely won’t make the same error here.
Song’s footwork is very good and he has the volume to match with his power, but if Simon is able to close the distance and get his hands together then I would expect him to be successful with his takedowns far more often than not.
The fact this fight changed from 15 minutes to 25 minutes on just a few weeks’ notice won’t be ideal for Simon, but as the wrestler he should be able to dictate the pace of the fight more and I would expect enough control on the mat for him to secure a decision on the judge’s scorecard and a victory.
PICK – Ricky Simon via Decision