Ricky Simon was tonight (Sat., Feb. 9, 2019) out to extend his win streak to three inside the Octagon and prove he belongs among the Bantamweight elite, taking on decorated Brazilian jiu-jitsu specialist Rani Yahya at UFC 234 inside Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
And he did just that, sprawling and brawling his way to an important unanimous decision win.
Simon came out aggressive, seemingly not afraid to get to close to Yahya too soon. He tried to trap him in a corner and put together some punches, but Yahya circled away and threw some shots of his own. Yahya missed on his first takedown attempt, but did crack Simon with a nice shot, then a solid jab. Simon fired back with a straight right hand that clearly got Yahya’s attention. In fact, he attempted another takedown, but Simon sprawled and brawled. Simon nailed him with a shot that sent Yahya to the canvas, he followed him down to the ground for a minute, but then wisely let him back to his feet. On the restart Simon dropped him again, but this time just let him get back to his feet. Yahya was still game, drilling Simon with a solid uppercut, but he continued to stalk the Brazilian. Yahya continued to dive for telegraphed takedowns, but Simon was having none of it as the opening round came to a close.
Simon looked determined to start the second stanza, drilling Yahya with a solid right cross of a body kick. He ducked under a Yahya cross and dumped him on the mat, but once again let him get back to hit feet — he didn’t want to play the ground game with the super dangerous grappler. Yahya attempted to fire back to set up another takedown, but Simon simply stepped out and returned to stalking him on the feet. Simon missed on a wild uppercut and Yahya timed it perfect with a right cross, which appeared to briefly stun the American. Yahya came in for another exchange, but Simon dropped him with a shoulder to the chin. Simon secured a takedown at the end of the round and engaged in some ground-and-pound as the round ended.
Yahya was able to quickly get the fight to the ground to start the third and final round, but Simon was able to return to his feet almost immediately. Simon drilled Yahya with a solid right cross, but he ate it and continued to exchange. Yahya tried to bait Simon to the ground, but he wasn’t taking it. Yahya went for another shot off a combination, but for the ninth time in the fight he failed to secure it. Simon pumped a hard jab into Yahya’s face as the clock winded down, then secured yet another takedown, but this time Yahya wrapped his legs around him and tried to angle for a submission. But, it never came, with Simon raining down punches as the final horn blared to end the 135-pound bout.
It was a solid back-and-forth fight. The major difference was Yahya’s inability to score a single takedown Simon’s ability to sprawl-and-brawl. It was an impressive performance for Simon, who can now make a claim to crack the Bantamweight Top 15 with a decision win over a very experienced and dangerous opponent.
For complete UFC 234: “Silva vs. Adesanya” results, including play-by-play updates, click here.