Song Yadong made a big statement in the main event of UFC Vegas 72, knocking out the always-durable Ricky Simon in the fifth and final round.
An exciting fight between young phenom Song Yadong (19-7-1) and Ricky Simon (20-3) with his five-fight win streak was moved back a week and elevated to the main card of UFC Vegas 72 on just one week’s notice.
Yadong made his second main event appearance in quick succession after he lost his headlining debut against top contender Cory Sandhagen in September of 2022 via doctor’s stoppage due to a gnarly cut. Still, in that fight, they earned ‘Fight of the Night’ honors as he fought through that cut for three full rounds and was willing to keep going.
Both he and Simon are better than they have ever been and seem to be on upward trajectories in the sport. The result will have a huge effect on the division and title picture in bantamweight, arguably the UFC’s best division, right before a huge title fight a week from now.
Ricky Simon was dictating the pace early on with in-and-out movement and leg kicks. Yadong was picking his shots as Simon attempted a takedown to get Yadong thinking. Simon later locked up a clinch but it was Yadong who overpowered him and had the advantageous position before breaking apart. Simon came up empty on another takedown attempt but Yadong was unable to make him pay.
Simon came out as the aggressor again in the second round, but that came back to bite him as Yadong scored an early knockdown against the fence. Simon attempted to recover but nearly found himself in a standing guillotine. Simon broke free and took Yadong down into side control. The top position did not last long as Simon would have liked as Yadong returned to the feet. Momentum had swung Yadong’s way as he was now getting the better of Simon on the feet. A body shot connected for Yadong but Simon made a statement with a late takedown and some hammerfists at the very end of the round.
Simon nearly scored a takedown to start the third round but Yadong was able to get right back to his feet. An uppercut that was meant for Simon’s body traveled a bit too low and the fight came to a brief halt. When action resumed, it was Yadong pushing forward with leg kicks as his weapon of choice. Simon was able to connect with a left straight then dodged a pair of high kicks from his opponent. A big right hand found the target for Yadong followed by a left hand. The pressure of Yadong was beginning to make Simon cover up on the feet. At the end of the round, Yadong accidentally headbutted Simon and the latter was not pleased by the lack of a foul called.
Simon came out in the fourth with a one-two combination and a flying knee, all of which landed. Two hooks to the head and one to the body landed for Yadong, who was finding his rhythm again. A left caused Simon to reset. He was still landing, but with less frequency than his opponent. Yadong stunned Simon at the very end of the fourth with his second knockdown of the contest.
A double jab from Simon started the final round, but he was soon stung by a left hand over the top. Another left hook was fired by Yadong and this one sent Simon to his back. A few more punches and the fight was called in favor of Yadong.
— ESPN MMA (@espnmma) April 30, 2023
Song Yadong def. Ricky Simon by TKO (Punches) in Round 5 (1:10)