Tuesday, June 2, 2020
June 2, 2020

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Haircut, victory get Vancouver’s Ricky Simon noticed in UFC

Union High alum says he’s ‘right in the mix’ of bantamweight division

By , Columbian sports reporter
Published:

The mullet was never intended to be Vancouver native Ricky Simon’s UFC identity.

“I grew it out as a joke,” Simon says.

But when he entered the Octagon for the sixth time in his UFC career on May 13, the discussion centered around his lack of locks.

The Union High alumnus, sporting a sleeker look, topped former flyweight title contender Ray Borg by split decision to move his record to 16-3 (4-2 in UFC’s bantamweight division).

“The UFC made a big post about it; it was on the ESPN page. It was a little ridiculous,” Simon said of the reaction to his haircut. “I guess people liked (the mullet). Maybe it’ll grow back some day.”

Simon scored seven takedowns in the fight, and has 13 takedowns in his last two fights combined. Coming off back-to-back defeats — albeit to Hall of Famer Uriah Faber and a Fight of the Night defeat to Rob Font — Simon desperately needed a victory.

So he turned to his tried and true: wrestling.

While Simon doesn’t have the collegiate wrestling background of some of UFC’s top grapplers, he prides himself on what he calls “MMA-style wrestling.”

“I used to have set up takedowns with just wrestling,” Simon said. “Now I can set it up with strikes and punches and have good flow from transitioning striking to grappling.”

While Simon scraped a split-decision victory from the bout, it was his personality while fighting that received most attention post-fight. In a fan-free Vystar Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Fla., it was easy to pick up Simon’s quips to Borg throughout the fight.

In response to Borg, 26, saying Simon looked like him, the 27-year-old responded: “I’m older than you. You look like me.”

Later in the fight, he flexed in response to ringside commentator and heavyweight champion Daniel Cormier talking about Simon’s size in the division.

“My favorite part about fighting in the UFC is the fans. Making it to that level and walking out in a sold-out arena, I fell in love with that,” Simon said. “This fight really took me back to my earlier days fighting in some odd places. They’d put cages up in a bar or in the Vancouver Mall.

“I wanted to take advantage. Even though there wasn’t anyone in the stands, I knew there were still people tuning in and I still wanted to be entertaining.”

It caught the eye of many UFC fans, who lauded Simon’s flair on social media.

They’ll be seeing much more of Simon in the coming years too as he signed a four-fight contract before his fight in Jacksonville. It’s his third contract in mixed martial arts’ top circuit.

“People on the come-up always say it’s not just getting there, it’s about staying there,” Simon said. “I’m here to stay. I’m all about getting to the next contract and getting more fights under the banner. I’m super pumped about it.”

Simon has been ranked as high as No. 13 in the bantamweight division. He currently sits on the outside of the top-15 with an influx of new talent atop one of UFC’s toughest divisions, led by recently retired bantamweight champion Henry Cejudo. Future hall of famers Jose Aldo and Frankie Edgar both recently dropped to the division. Former bantamweight champ Dominick Cruz just made his long-awaited return to the Octagon in the division as well.

“I’m still right in the mix,” Simon said. “The bantamweight division looks great right now. There are just so many killers in the top 30. … It’s motivated me even more. There’s no easy fights. I don’t like easy fights. I like them to get dirty.”

Simon was issued an indefinite medical suspension following his fight with Borg, which is typical for fighters who sustain any injuries in the Octagon. But he hopes to return later this year.

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