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UFC Vegas 72 preview: ‘Song vs Simon’ predictions

MMA: SEP 14 UFC Vegas 60 Photo by Amy Kaplan/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is just one day away from the upcoming UFC Vegas 72 mixed martial arts (MMA) event, which is set to go down tomorrow night (Sat., April 29, 2023) on ESPN+ from inside the promotion’s APEX facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, featuring a bantamweight main event between Top 10 title hopefuls Yadong Song and Ricky Simon, a five-round headliner with serious title implications for late 2023 and beyond.

LIVE! Stream UFC Vegas 74 On ESPN+

HIGH STAKES FLYWEIGHT MATCHUP! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns home to UFC Apex in Las Vegas, Nevada, on Sat., June 3, 2023, with No. 3-seeded contender, Kai Kara-France, face rising No. 7-ranked Amir Albazi. In UFC Vegas 74’s ESPN+-streamed co-main event, an exciting Featherweight bout sees No. 15-ranked contender, Alex Caceres, lock horns with all-action Daniel Pineda.

Don’t miss a single second of face-punching action!

Before we dive into the main and co-main events, which includes the middleweight scrap between Caio Borralho and Michal Oleksiejczuk, check out Patrick Stumberg’s breakdowns for the UFC Vegas 72 preliminary card — which he wrote after testifying against Nate Diaz in a New Orleans courtroom — by clicking here and here. For the latest “Song vs. Simon” odds and betting lines courtesy of our fiscal friends over at Draft Kings go here.

For the rest of the UFC Vegas 72 main card predictions click here.

135 lbs.: Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon

Song “Kung Fu Kid” Yadong

Record: 19-7-1, 1 NC | Age: 25 | Betting line: +120
Wins: 8 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 8 DEC | Losses: 2 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 4 DEC, 1 DQ
Height: 5’8“ | Reach: 67” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.55 | Striking accuracy: 41%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.93 | Striking Defense: 59%
Takedown Average: 0.63 (55% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 71%
Current Ranking: No. 8 | Last fight: Technical knockout loss to Cory Sandhagen

Ricky Simon

Record: 20-3 | Age: 30 | Betting line: -145
Wins: 6 KO/TKO, 4 SUB, 10 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’6“ | Reach: 69” | Stance: Orthodox
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 3.04 | Striking accuracy: 44%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 2.95 | Striking Defense: 64%
Takedown Average: 6.55 (52% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 75%
Current Ranking: No. 10 | Last fight: Submission win over Jack Shore

Yadong Song and Ricky Simon were previously scheduled to throw hands in the UFC Vegas 71 co-main event last weekend in Las Vegas, right up until the original UFC Vegas 72 headliner between Renato Moicano and Arman Tsarukyan went down in flames. I know fickle fight fans aren’t exactly overwhelmed by the decision to change gears but to be fair, both Song and Simon are ranked in the division Top 10 and will probably deliver a banger of a bout, so all things considered, I’d say it could have ended up a lot worse.

Song had an opportunity to prove he was a legitimate title contender when he threw hands with Cory Sandhagen last September. Unfortunately, a nasty cut brought a premature end to that five-round affair and fans were left with more questions than answers. The “Kung Fu Kid” came out strong and captured the cards in Round 1, then appeared to slow down and hand over the next three frames before getting the fight waved off by the cageside physician. Prior to that performance, Song racked up three straight wins over ... well, let’s call it not-so-great competition. I don’t think anyone is celebrating a knockout victory over Marlon Moraes these days and both Casey Kenney and Julio Arce are missing in action after suffering devastating injuries. It’s also important to note that Song is just 25 years old and has yet to reach his athletic peak, competitively speaking, meaning he could make dramatic improvements from fight to fight. We could see an entirely new (or much more refined) version of Song when the cage door closes this weekend at APEX — or we could see the same rock ‘em, sock ‘em wild man who earned five post-fight performance bonuses. After all, some folks you just can’t teach while others simply abandon the gameplan once their chins gets checked.

In the case of Song, fans win either way.

Simon was a big name on the regional scene several years back and had a chance to blast his way into the promotion on Dana White’s “Contender Series.” Instead, he settled for a split decision victory over the unheralded Donavon Frelow, which resulted in no UFC contract and another couple of fights on the local circuit. Undeterred, Simon kept on winning and got the eventual call up to join the UFC roster where he’s since put together a fantastic 8-2 record in 10 trips to the Octagon. Naysayers like to highlight his early missteps against Uriah Faber and Rob Font but if we’re going to play that game, we can also mention how Simon submitted Merab Dvalishvili, who is now ranked No. 1 in the world. Like Song, the rough-and-tumble Simon has bagged a handful of post-fight performance bonuses, including two “Fight of the Night” checks worth $50,000 apiece. I certainly wouldn't be surprised if these two stole the show but I can’t overlook some glaring facts heading into this fight. Song was soundly defeated by Cody Stamann and Kyler Phillips and what did those two fights have in common? The “Kung Fu Kid” could not stop the takedown. Against Simon, he’s facing an opponent with the second highest number of takedowns in the history of the bantamweight division, second only to Dvalishvili. Watching Song run out of steam against Sandhagen does not leave me feeling confident for his chances this weekend at APEX. Expect Simon to mix it up for a spell and make things interesting, but sooner or later the former high school wrestling standout will fall back on his bread-and-butter, mugging and slugging his way to a sweep on the judges’ scorecards.

Prediction: Simon def. Song by unanimous decision

185 lbs.: Caio Borralho vs. Michal Oleksiejczuk

Caio “The Natural” Borralho

Record: 13-1, 1 NC | Age: 30 | Betting line: -350
Wins: 4 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 6 DEC | Losses: 0 KO/TKO, 0 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 5’10“ | Reach: 75” | Stance: Southpaw
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 2.36 | Striking accuracy: 61%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 1.60 | Striking Defense: 60%
Takedown Average: 2.23 (75% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 50%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Decision victory over Makhmud Muradov

Michal “Hussar” Oleksiejczuk

Record: 18-5, 1 NC | Age: 28 | Betting line: +260
Wins: 13 KO/TKO, 1 SUB, 4 DEC | Losses: 1 KO/TKO, 3 SUB, 1 DEC
Height: 6’0“ | Reach: 74” | Stance: Southpaw
Significant Strikes Landed Per Minute: 4.94 | Striking accuracy: 50%
Strikes Absorbed Per Minute: 3.98 | Striking Defense: 64%
Takedown Average: 0.67 (42% accuracy) | Takedown Defense: 42%
Current Ranking: Unranked | Last fight: Knockout win over Cody Brundage

Caio Borralho was a pretty big deal on the international circuit, racking up an 8-1 record with five nasty finishes competing for Brazilian promotions like Arena Combat and Future FC. It didn’t take long for “The Natural” to get his UFC audition on Dana White’s “Contender Series” but he needed two appearances on the “Sin City” proving ground to seal the deal. That led to a UFC contract and three straight wins inside the Octagon, including his judges’ nod over Makhmud Muradov at UFC 280 last Oct. in Abu Dhabi. It’s hard to knock a guy who keeps winning but his performances were mostly forgettable and it’s not like he was sawing his way through the bottom half of the division Top 15. Considering what he’s faced with tomorrow night in Las Vegas, I would expect a repeat of the Armen Petrosyan gameplan at UFC Vegas 58, which resulted in four takedowns across three rounds and a unanimous decision victory in favor of the Brazilian. It won’t make for the most exciting television but hey; they’re fighting at APEX, it kinda fits the theme of these ho-hum “Fight Night” cards.

Michal Oleksiejczuk, who makes me grateful I don’t handle live play-by-play, scored headlines in his UFC debut for all the wrong reasons. After securing a unanimous decision victory over Khalil Rountree at UFC 219 in late 2017, “Hussar” flunked his post-fight drug test for clomiphene, which benched him for one year and overturned his victory to a “No Contest.” Following that misstep, Oleksiejczuk struggled to stay consistent at light heavyweight, putting together a mediocre 4-3 record while getting subbed in two of those three losses. That led to an eventual return to middleweight for the power-punching Pole, who went on to smash Sam Alvey and Cody Brundage in back-to-back fights. It’s worth mentioning that Brundage was able to score three takedowns before getting his clock cleaned late in the first round and prior to that, Jimmy Crute was eight for 10 in takedowns at UFC Auckland. Team Borralho is well aware of what happens when you try to stand and bang with “Hussar” (a name given to Poland’s winged horsemen of the late 16th century) and you can expect “The Natural” to be spamming takedowns early and often. He only needs three rounds to neutralize Oleksiejczuk, who is likely to get frustrated at his inability to fire off any offense, which could lead to a fight-ending mistake on the ground.

Prediction: Borralho def. Oleksiejczuk by submission

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the UFC Vegas 72 main card predictions RIGHT HERE. will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Vegas 72 fight card RIGHT HERE, starting with the ESPN+ preliminary card bouts at 4 p.m. ET, followed by the ESPN+ main card start time at 7 p.m. ET.

To check out the latest and greatest UFC Vegas 72 news and notes be sure to hit up our comprehensive event archive here. For the updated and finalized “Song vs. Simon” fight card and ESPN+ line up click here.

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