Ricky Simon celebrates his UFC win

Ricky Simon and Mario Bautista are two of the stronger bantamweight contenders outside the top 10, and they’re expected to put on a show in their matchup this Saturday on the main card of UFC Vegas 84.

Simon is coming off a headliner in April 2023 against Song Yadong while Bautista’s latest win came against Da’Mon Blackshear in August. Simon was on the cusp of breaking into the Bantamweight title contention but is now looking to fend off another well-rounded contender in Bautista.

Betting Odds

Simon opened as the slight favorite and has crept up close to a two-to-on favorite over Bautista, who has won his last five:

  • Mario Bautista +155
  • Ricky Simon -185

Fight Breakdown

Mario Bautista will be fighting in his sixteenth professional fight this weekend with a record of 13-2.  With a record of 7-2 in the UFC. He’s spent a good majority of his pro career at the highest level and has performed extremely well.

The 30-year-old is a well-rounded bantamweight with power in his hands and great grappling. He’s light on his feet to bounce in and out of range, throwing a lot of straight shots from a distance before transitioning to takedown attempts. 

He’s at his best when he’s able to get his hands going and hide his takedown entries behind successful combinations. He’ll throw out the jab and a long cross to cover range and when he gets his opponent against the cage, he starts to target the body. He has a very effective outside leg kick from a conventional stance and likes to switch southpaw to attack kicks on the open side of fellow orthodox fighters.

He uses his movement and striking in a way that hides his takedown entries very well. When he wants to get the fight to the ground, he often throws a straight shot and ducks under the return to get to the hips or a body lock to work for the takedown. He’s a submission artist on the ground with six submission wins but has great top pressure and ground n pound as well.

Bautista has a relentless pace and will pour on the offense if he senses his opponent slowing. He only has three wins by knockout but he produces a lot of power in his hands, especially to the body. His pace rarely waivers but his power does look to dwindle a bit in the second half of fights.

Ricky Simon is one of the better wrestlers you’ll find at 135 lbs. The 31-year-old has accumulated quite an impressive record of 20-4 with an 8-3 record in the UFC. He’s a powerful bantamweight with relentless takedown pressure that comes off a good jab and right hand. With seven straight fights with multiple takedowns, it’s unlikely we get through this one without at least one or two from the Washington product.

While Simon’s main weapon is his impressive wrestling, he’s still a threat on the feet. Simon’s power is well-documented but still underrated, in my opinion. He has a stiff jab that he often doubles up and times very effectively when his opponent comes into range.

This jab opens up the takedown opportunities as his opponents begin to explode in to get past that jab and he’ll happily collide with them in the clinch to lock his hands and take the fight to the floor. The jab also sets up his devastating right hand that he lands accurately as an overhand which compliments that takedown threat well.

While Ricky keeps a nice high guard and is constantly throwing feints, he’s willing to take shots to the guard to allow his opponent to over-commit and give him the chance to shoot at their hips. You’ll see this a lot as he backs himself to the cage and squares up to lure his opponent into an explosive combination that he uses to shoot under. While it has been effective at times, you don’t love to see him willingly take multiple big shots in a row, even with how tough he is.

I love the low kicks of Bautista in this matchup. Simon is tough and can take some big shots to the head and not get knocked out, but his legs and body are often open. Song Yadong found a lot of success attacking the lower levels of Simon and used the threat of knees and upward strikes to keep Simon on his feet for most of the fight. Bautista looks to be the faster fighter on the feet and will need to use that speed advantage to keep Simon off his hips and possibly look for some takedowns of his own.

For Simon, he’s the better wrestler in this matchup and should have the power advantage as well. He needs to find his jab early and get the timing of Bautista’s entries which should easily open up opportunities for a takedown as Mario blitzes in. Ricky’s right hand is another factor that I think will play a part in this one in the second and third round. While these two may look somewhat even in terms of strength early, Simon seems to carry his power better into the later rounds.


While Simon is coming off a loss and Bautista is on a five-fight win streak, I do believe Simon holds an advantage in most categories. He’s the more devastating puncher, he’s a better wrestler, he has better timing and his motor is as good or better than Bautista’s. 

Bautista may be able to return to his feet after getting dumped by Simon but Ricky’s relentless pressure to get the takedown will likely eat up large portions of the round. If he isn’t successful at first with his takedowns, I think he has an advantage on the feet too as long as he can avoid taking too much damage to his lead leg.

If he begins to pull ahead with his striking, it will open up more opportunities for a takedown. Simon has the ability to finish a fight on the feet and on the ground and has the gas tank to go much longer than 15 minutes so I’ll keep it simple and go with Simon at the moneyline.

Prediction: Ricky Simon to win

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