Ricky Simon (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

UFC Fight Night: Song vs. Simón Preview and Predictions

On Saturday, Apr. 29, the UFC will be back in the UFC Apex for the second week in a row. After a little bit of musical chairs over the past week and a half, the UFC worked out the kinks and is all squared away for this weekend’s fight card, UFC Fight Night: Song vs. Simon. The main event was originally scheduled to be a three-round contest last weekend, but it got pushed back a week and moved into the headlining spot. Two top-10 bantamweights will look to cement their position inside the rankings with a statement victory.

Song Yadong comes into this clash on the heels of a defeat in his first true test against the divisional elite. He lost via TKO to Cory Sandhagen, after a cut forced a halt to the contest. This was a fight in which Song was clearly losing, but not getting terribly outclassed.

Ricky Simon might not have the name recognition of Cory Sandhagen, but he is a very talented UFC veteran who is riding a hot streak. He hasn’t been bested in his last five outings and is coming off of back-to-back finishes, with a knockout victory over Raphael Assuncao and most recently a submission win over Jack Shore. This tough test for both men will show how they stack up against the best in the world at 135 pounds.


The co-main event pits two hard-charging middleweights against each other, as Caio Borralho takes on Michał Oleksiejczuk. Borralho stormed into the UFC, rattling off three consecutive wins to start his tenure. He looks to make it four in a row as he takes on the Polish veteran. This will be Oleksiejczuk’s third fight back in the middleweight division after spending nearly a decade competing at light heavyweight. A win over his surging Brazilian counterpart would announce to the rest of the middleweights that Oleksiejczuk is ready to make his march towards the top of the division.

UFC Fight Night: Song vs. Simon airs in its entirety on ESPN+, stating at 4:30 p.m. ET. The preliminary card will also air on ESPN2 at 4:30 p.m. ET, followed by the main card on ESPNEWS at 7 p.m. ET. Combat Press writers Andrew Sumian and Matt Petela preview the action in this week’s edition of Toe-to-Toe.

Song Yadong and Ricky Simon find themselves in the main event after initially preparing for a three-round contest; who wins the short-notice, five-round bout?

Sumian: It is so hard to give Song Yadong a chance in this fight, given how good and powerful Ricky Simon is on the ground. It will be interesting to see how the dynamic striker in Song is able to combat the powerful grappler in Simon. Only time will tell which one of these contenders will be able to take the next step as a bantamweight contender.

Song is coming off a very fun, yet one-sided, loss to top contender Cory Sandhagen. The Chinese native is still only 25 years old and has many years of being able to reach top-contender status, utilizing his powerful knockout capabilities and prolific striking. Song holds victories over Casey Kenney, Julio Arce, Marlon Vera, and Marlon Moraes. He has done nothing but thoroughly impress MMA fans, given how young he is. A win over one of the best up and comers like Simon will catapult the young contender to further upper-tier status, if he can overcome the always-game Simon.

Simon is on the climb and very few can doubt that fact. The Oregon standout is on a five-fight winning streak and continues to put his prolific grappling on display with every Octagon performance. He is averaging over six takedowns per 15 minutes and over three significant striker per minute. Simon hasn’t lost since Dec. 2019 and has only gotten better with every performance.

If Song can keep this fight on the feet, he can definitely land enough volume to overwhelm Simon and win a decision victory. This will not be the case. Simon will be able to get this to the ground and control Song round after round to win a clear decision victory.

Petela: Ricky Simon is on a hot streak right now. He has won five fights in a row, including three finishes over that stretch. He has beaten good fighters on his current run, besting Brian Kelleher and Raphael Assuncao, among others. However, when Simon faces true top-tier fighters, he comes up short. His last two losses came against longtime bantamweight contender Urijah Faber and current sixth-ranked contender Rob Font. At 30 years old, Simon is very much in his physical prime, and he may have a bit more of an upside than he has shown but the story of this fight is really about the growth of Song Yadong.

Song certainly came up short against Cory Sandhagen, but he had some moments in that bout. This clash with Simon is going to tell whether or not Song “got the rub” from Sandhagen in that fight, and whether he can use that to catapult himself to the next level. Nobody who is anything less than an elite fighter beats Ricky Simon. I’m optimistic about Song’s chances to keep this fight on the feet. I think that he stings Simon early with a right hand and that forces Simon to shoot takedowns out of desperation, and, in doing so, he won’t have the proper force and drive in his attempts to get Song’s back to the canvas. From the opening bell, expect Song to pick apart Simon while they are standing, and for this fight to end with a second-round TKO for Song, the best win of his career.

Caio Borralho is on a 13-fight unbeaten streak; can he extend it to 14 and get past veteran Michał Oleksiejczuk?

Petela: Nope. Michał Oleksiejczuk will play spoiler this weekend and announce himself as a real force at middleweight after his return to the division after spending several years at light heavyweight. He has already gone 2-0 since he moved back down to 185 lbs. and this third straight win will be his biggest in the weight class. Both of those wins came by knockout and Oleksiejczuk will extend that streak as well and shock fans by hammering through Caio Borralho. This won’t be the end of “The Natural” but it will be a slowdown of his growing momentum.

Sumian: Why this fight is a co-main event is beyond me. Nevertheless, I am going to play Devil’s advocate and call for a Caio Brralho upset victory. He is 2-0 as an official UFC middleweight and will take it to the next step when he defeats Oleksiejczuk by unanimous decision. This should be a fun one from start to finish, but I favor the Brazilian’s chances of continuing his impressive streak.

What one fighter’s UFC career is on the ropes at this event?

Sumian: Brian Kelleher is on a two-fight losing streak and running on fumes. He has had some prolific performances in the UFC but would probably be on thin ice if he suffered a loss to Journey Newson. Newson is 1-3-1 in the UFC, so a win over Kelleher would pay dividends for the struggling California native. However, on short notice, Kelleher had to withdraw and was replaced by Marcus McGhee. A loss to the promotional newcomer would spell big trouble for Newsom.

Petela: Jake Collier. For his first 10 fights in the UFC, Collier alternated wins and losses. Nothing remarkable, but he has been an entertaining heavyweight, so it made sense for the UFC to keep him around. However, that win-one-lose-one trend ended over his last two fights, where he dropped two consecutive bouts for the first time in his career. Unless he comes away with a win over Martin Buday it will probably be the end of the run for the Missouri native.

Which fight is the sleeper match-up on this card?

Petela: Cody Durden vs. Charles Johnson. For a division that was once being considered for elimination from the promotion entirely, the flyweight class sure is fun to watch. Whether it’s the lightning fast strikes or the slick scrambles on the mat, it’s rare that the flyweights put on a boring show. Tune in early to catch this one.

Sumian: Rodolfo Vieira versus Cody Brundage should be widely entertaining, no matter what happens. These two combine for 15 finishes and will ensure this main card bout delivers in more ways than one.

Who takes home the “Performance of the Night” honors?

Sumian: Julian Erosa. He will finish Fernando Padilla with a slick TKO or submission and claim an extra 50 thousand dollars. Erosa is always to watch and has a very awkward style to prepare for. Expect the Washington native to earn a victory and in impressive fashion.

Petela: I’m going out on a limb here and saying Hailey Cowan. The debutante has shown over her seven victories that she can end the fight with her hands, as well as with her submission grappling game. I have a feeling that she proves to be too much for Jamey-Lyn Horth and picks up a stoppage victory in her first official fight under the UFC banner.

Pair this card with…

Petela: Kielbasa and sauerkraut. Michał Oleksiejczuk is going to pick up a big win and slow down the hype train of Caio Borralho. The Polish standout has gone 2-0 since he returned to middleweight and has looked impressive. 185 pounds is the right weight class for Oleksiejczuk and he will show that in his co-main event performance this weekend. So, celebrate one of the biggest wins of his career with a classic Polish staple, kielbasa and sauerkraut.

Sumian: A hallpass. I don’t like being a negative Nancy, but this is a card that is definitely okay to miss. The only fight with any real stakes is the main event, and, even then, it’s not must-watch TV. The UFC Apex ride continues to claim victims given its yearly requirements, and this card is its latest victim.

Fight Sumian’s Pick Petela’s Pick
Main Card (ESPN+/ESPNEWS, 7 p.m. ET)
BW: Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon Simon Song
MW: Caio Borralho vs. Michał Oleksiejczuk Borralho Oleksiejczuk
MW: Cody Brundage vs. Rodolfo Vieira Vieira Vieira
FW: Julian Erosa vs. Fernando Padilla Erosa Erosa
HW: Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima de Lima de Lima
Preliminary Card (ESPN+/ESPN2, 4:30 p.m. ET)
HW: Martin Buday vs. Jake Collier Buday Collier
FlyW: Cody Durden vs. Charles Johnson Durden Durden
WW: Josh Quinlan vs. Trey Waters Quinlan Quinlan
Women’s BW: Stephanie Egger vs. Irina Alekseeva Alekseeva Egger
BW: Marcus McGhee vs. Journey Newsom Newsom Newsom
BW: Hailey Cowan vs. Jamey-Lyn Horth Cowan Cowan