Las Vegas, NV — It’s a quick turnaround this weekend for Ricky Simon, who is less than a month removed from his last bout as he heads into UFC 258.
“Always a challenge, but more fun this time, because I didn’t have to get beat up eight weeks to get here,” Simon (17-3) said regarding his short-notice bout against Brian Kelleher this Saturday.
Of course, to some extent, he asked for it. Speaking at the UFC 258 media day this week, Simon noted that “we were supposed to fight a few times already, and I called him out right after that fight [in January, against Gaetano Pirrello].” Following that bout, as he was heading to the back, Simon’s manager approached him with an offer. “My manager runs up to me like ‘three weeks, you want to do it?'” recalled Simon. “I’m like ‘oh man, I don’t know if I want to make 135 again.’ They said it could be at 145, and I was like ‘alright, sign me up, let’s do this.'”
And so Simon vs. Kelleher will go down as another featherweight fight between two bantamweights. A situation that has been seen a few times during the pandemic.
Simon said Wednesday that he feels strong at 145. But at the same time, he added that he’s also never felt a bantamweight he thought was stronger than him. And at 145lbs, he may be at something of a disadvantage in terms of height. So don’t expect him to join the division full time.
“On short notice. But I’m a bantamwegiht. There’s something about having to make the weight,” Simon later noted. “Something about having to stay disciplined, something about going to bed hungry that just drives me more. If it’s a shorter notice [fight] against another true bantamweight, I’ll do it,” he said. Otherwise, the plan is to stay at 135lbs.
As for this particular outing, Ricky Simon is well aware of the expectations. “I’m getting tagged online all the time, fans want to see this fight. He’s an exciting fighter, I fancy myself an exciting fighter,” Simon stated. He and Kelleher have had some banter online as well, but nothing all that serious. “Don’t bug me none, but I’m winning these exchanges, in my opinion.”
Simon expects a Performance of the Night style performance come Saturday. But despite all the build-up, and the match-up with Kelleher falling through in the past, it doesn’t hold any more meaning for him. “Not really. We’ve been doing the same thing for this guy. I’m just getting kind of tired of seeing his bald head.”
Watch the full UFC 258 media day press scrum with Ricky Simon above. The event takes place this Saturday, February 13 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.