“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.