Vancouver fighter Ricky Simon earned one of the most impressive victories in his ascendant mixed martial arts career on Saturday.
Simon knocked out perennial contender Raphael Assuncao in the second round at UFC Fight Night in Las Vegas.
The dominant win over No. 12-ranked Assuncao means Simon, 29, will certainly be ranked in the bantamweight division of the UFC.
It’s Simon’s fourth victory in a row. His record improved to 7-2 in the UFC and 20-3 as a professional.
“The more comfortable I get in here, the more dangerous I’m going to be,” Simon said in his televised post-fight interview. “Dang I felt comfortable today. This whole week, this whole training camp I put the right team around me.”
Simon, a state wrestling champion at Union High School in 2010, used his grappling skills to control the first round.
But Simon’s striking ultimately ended the fight. He caught Assuncao with a right hook to the head, sending the 39-year-old Brazilian staggering to the mat. Simon quickly followed with a left-handed strike, ending the fight 2 minutes, 14 seconds into the second round.
“We didn’t want to take him straight on because we know he’s a big power puncher,” Simon said. “We created angles … Hey we got a finish over a top-15 guy, a legend in the bantamweight division.”
Simon’s résumé is bolstered with the win over Assuncao, whose 11 UFC wins are tied for the second most among bantamweights.
Simon is hoping his next fight comes against another rising star in Sean O’Malley, who entered the bantamweight rankings at No. 13 this week after an impressive knockout at UFC 269 on Dec. 11.
“If Sean O’Malley can get (UFC president) Dana White’s permission, we’ve been trying to make that happen for a while,” Simon said. “I’m not trying to bully the kid into a fight. So anybody else, I know where I’m headed. I’m headed for the title. But that would be a great fight for me.”