Ricky Simon vs. Song Yadong prediction | UFC Fight Night 222 1

Top 10 bantamweights clash at UFC Las Vegas this weekend when the always scrappy Ricky Simon meets the “Kung Fu Kid” Song Yadong. Currently riding a 5 fight-winning streak, Simon has dispatched top names like Raphael Assuncao and Ray Borg on the way. Yet, no victory would be as big as the potential one over the Chinese standout this Saturday.

Song who currently holds wins over Marlon Vera, Casey Kenny, and Marlon Moraes made a big step up when he faced top contender Cory Sandhagen last September. The fight pulled away from him after suffering a nasty cut in the second round, but even in defeat Song proved to many fans he could be a future title challenger. To live up to that hype he will need to get past Simon, who sits two ranks below him, and prove again that he deserves a fight closer to the top 5.

Betting Odds

Ricky Simon will come into the fight as the favorite to win. Oddsmakers looking to play the underdog could win $107 on every $100 placed on Song.

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Fight Breakdown

Ricky Simon’s base style comes from his high-level wrestling as a teenager. He utilized these skills as his roots when he early on transitioned to MMA, but his wrestling ability is still his most dominant skill. On the feet, he keeps a high guard, and a low stance, contrasting the more upright approach of Song. This allows him to stay cocked and ready for a level change at any moment, however, his quickness is potentially a shade behind Song. The diversity in his striking game is also a bit less pronounced, he sticks to his basic boxing combinations and very effective low kicks, but to keep up with Song’s striking he will need to mix the threat of the takedown into his feints consistently.

Song Yadong is supremely quick and explosive, both in his ability to slip punches and counter, but also in his sprawls. That being said, because he is so quick to react, he can react very big, and by getting him to drop dramatically under threat of a takedown, Simon will better open Song up to his big overhand rights and hooks.

Song Yadong is constantly evolving between fights, and that’s one of the variables always present, what new developments and changes will we see in his style every time he fights? As he progresses towards bigger stages, and likely more five-round contests as with his last, we have seen him shorten his stance, elect to plod forward instead of bounce and leap, and pick his moments to explode more efficiently.

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So expect him to mostly be the one pushing forward, although he still needs to make sure he is chasing, rather than cutting off the cage to avoid running to a level change. Song has shown excellent head movement as of late and a superior ability to strike off of angles to Simon, in particular, Song used a very crafty, slip off the right hand and angle back with a counter left hook in his last outing. He also likes to lead with the right cross or right body kick then follow up with a whipping left hook.

Simon has a very high-level chain wrestling game and a variety of ways he likes to shoot. One of which involves slipping punches directly onto the hips and running the pipe into the fence. Where he has a lot of ways he enters range, a lot of the time it involves getting to double underhooks, and once there a significant amount of attempts ends up in the clinch against the cage. One of the holes we have seen from Simon is from the clinch, where he will win wrestling exchanges, he will often take the brunt of strikes if that clinch is broken. Song has a unique ability to explode off the cage with big hooks when given space so watch for big shots in this scenario.

Song is almost impossible to get to the ground but if he is, he almost always scrambles back to his feet. Simon does a great job of immediately ‘figure four’ing the legs and getting to a body lock, but if he does not get passed the knees look for Song to use butterfly hooks to create a scramble. On top Simon is constant in his ability to re-address his hold on the body, pull arms back that are being used to post, and suck the hips back away from the fence. However because all of these tactics revolve around the upper body, he does tend to land very little ground and pound while he wrestles. While grappling he is a big control time fighter, and on the feet is where his power and damage really shine.

Prediction and Betting Guide

Despite being the underdog, Song’s skills match up very well with Simon’s. His takedown defense is among his best tools and his ability to scramble out of bad positions especially early will come into play. Coming down from a main event camp in his last fight should help Song’s confidence going another five rounds, with it being Simon’s first.

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For Simon, it’s about consistently putting Song’s back on the canvas and landing power shots as Song advances on the feet, which is also very doable with his skill set. However, I see Song’s ability to strike in transitions between the grappling and striking and his ability to defend those takedowns edging him out and making him the better bet as the underdog.

Pick: Song to win (+107)

Read more: Joe Pounders’ Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon betting tips

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