Ricky Simon thwarted all of Rani Yahya’s attempts to take the fight to the ground en route to a unanimous decision victory at UFC 234.
Ricky Simon is a former LFA champion who entered the UFC with a 12-1 record. His promotional debut ended with controversy, as he scored a technical submission victory on Merab Dvalishvili as time expired in the third round. Dvalishvili did not tap, but was unconscious after the final bell, giving Simon the victory. Simon followed up with a decision victory over Montel Jackson.
Rani Yahya has quietly been one of the most successful bantamweights in the sport, amassing an 11-3 record with five submissions. A former world jiu-jitsu champion, Yahya is on a three-fight submission streak, securing a heel-hook, an arm-triangle, and a kimura in those three fights. He has eight stoppages combined in his UFC and WEC careers, which ranks among the best at bantamweight.
Ricky Simon took the center of the Octagon and blocked a head kick from Yahya. Simon pressed forward, then stuffed a takedown from Yahya. Yahya landed a heavy right hand, but Simon took over after. The young bantamweight knocked down Yahya twice to send the Brazilian into a series of desperate shots for a takedown without success. Simon even dumped Yahya down without following Yahya to the ground.
The hard exchanges of punches continued into the second round. Simon dumped Yahya onto the canvas twice while avoiding the shots of Yahya. Perhaps the most significant moment of the round was when Yahya rocked Simon with a right hand. The Brazilian chased him down with wild shots, then ran into the shoulder of Simon which knocked him down. Simon controlled the round from that point with his semi-takedowns.
Yahya was able to pull guard immediately to start the final round, but couldn’t chain anything together aside from a triangle attempt that Simon pulled out of. Simon went on to control the final round, not allowing Yahya’s strikes to land while mixing in takedowns and not following Yahya to the ground. Simon finally engaged with Yahya on the ground with 40 seconds left in the fight. Yahya couldn’t muster a miracle, and took the decision loss.
Ricky Simon def. Rani Yahya by Unanimous Decision (30-27 x2, 30-25)