On the official ledger, Ricky Simon is making his UFC debut tonight, but is that entirely accurate?
With just a few weeks’ notice, Simon (12-1 MMA, 0-0 UFC) replaced Augusto Mendes (6-2 MMA, 1-2 UFC), who was pulled from the card due to a potential doping violation, and now fights bantamweight Merab Dvalishvili (7-3 MMA, 0-1 UFC) at UFC Fight Night 128.
The preliminary-card bout, which airs on FS1 from Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, N.J., marks Simon’s first trip to the UFC octagon – of sorts. After all, the 25-year-old LFA vet also picked up a win on a 2017 Dana White’s Contender Series card. The UFC Fight Pass-streamed cards aren’t official UFC bouts, but they do give prospects a taste of what it’s like to compete on MMA’s biggest stage – and with the eyes of UFC officials upon them.
Simon, though, isn’t putting too much weight into his DWCS experience.
“I don’t feel like I’ve officially performed for the UFC,” Simon recently told MMAjunkie Radio. “I feel like it was a little branch off (of the UFC).
“But I feel like this (fight tonight) is finally the real deal.”
Simon picked up a split-decision win over Donavon Frelow at Dana White’s Contender Series 6, and he then headed to LFA, where he picked up a signature career win over UFC vet Chico Camus (decision) and a victory over Vinicius Zani (knockout) – both in AXS TV-televised headliners.
Although just eight months have passed since DWCS 6, Simon said he’s improved – though he think he was ready for the UFC even before the two LFA main events. In fact, it put a bit of a chip on his shoulder that his eventual UFC deal had to wait.
“I got the experience of going five rounds with a UFC vet, and then I got a quick knockout finish too,” Simon said. “The more experience the better, so I can’t complain about that.
“But I wish – you always wish (a UFC signing) would happen sooner.”
As for Dvalishvili, Simon sees a tough opponent but one with some flaws – namely, an eagerness to go for takedowns and little else. He said that was especially noticeable in Dvalishvili’s recent split-decision loss to Frankie Saenz in his December promotional debut.
“He’s strong, but he’s spastic at the same time,” Simon said. ” … I’m excited to go against another strong grappler. I feel like I’ve been getting a lot of strikers, so I’m excited for this guy to try to take me down.”
MMAjunkie Radio broadcasts Monday-Friday at 1 p.m. ET (10 a.m. PT) live from Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino’s Race & Sports Book. The show is hosted by “Gorgeous” George Garcia, Brian “Goze” Garcia and Dan Tom. For more information or to download past episodes, go to www.mmajunkie.com/radio.view original article >>
For his Octagon debut, Ricky Simon (12-1) will face Merab Dvalishvili (7-3) in a preliminary 135-pound bout at UFC Fight Night 128. read news >>
Brett Johns enters his UFC Atlantic City fight undefeated, which Aljamain Sterling explains puts him at an advantage. read news >>
It appears CM Punk’s return is receiving third billing on a stacked UFC 225 card. read news >>
Check out live play-by-play and official results from UFC Fight Night 128 in Atlantic City, N.J. read news >>
Check out the official fight poster and latest lineup for June’s “UFC Fight Night 132: Cowboy vs. Edwards” event. read news >>
While UFC 225 features not one, but two title fights, the official fight poster also features a bout between two fighters with a combined professional record of 0-2. Yes, you read that right... 0-2. read news >>
Headliners Jimmie Rivera and Marlon Moraes will have “no excuses” on June 1. read news >>
Ricky Simon was awarded a TKO victory at UFC Fight Night 128 despite his opponent seemingly making it past the final bell. read news >>
Check out highlights from Ricky Simon's inexplicable TKO win over Merab Dvalishvili at UFC Fight Night 128 on Saturday in Atlantic City, N.J. Dvalishvili never tapped out during the fight and the ref read news >>
Siyar Bahadurzada, David Branch, Ricky Simon and Merab Dvalishvili earned $50,000 bonuses for their performances at UFC Fight Night 128. read news >>
Check out the stunning finish to Ricky Simon vs. Merab Dvalishvili at UFC Fight Night 128. read news >>
Khabib Nurmagomedov addressed the current cadre of UFC lightweight contenders and laid out a time for his return to the Octagon. read news >>
Merab Dvalishvili would have won a split decision over Rick Simon had it gone to the judges’ scorecards. read news >>
Matt Serra is a UFC Hall of Famer, but with an unclear selection process, the promotion does a disservice to fighters who would be voted in – if that existed. read news >>
Merab Dvalishvili says he “kept fighting, kept showing everyone that I’m not sleeping from 55 seconds until finish.” read news >>
The UFC returns to Atlantic City for the first time since 2014 with tonight’s UFC Fight Night 128 event. Here’s how to watch. read news >>