Despite disappointment with UFC 234 win over Yahya, Ricky Simon aiming for top 10

MELBOURNE, Australia – Ricky Simon wants to finally crack into the UFC’s bantamweight rankings, and he hopes his Saturday win did the trick.

Simon (15-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) couldn’t finish Brazilian veteran Rani Yahya (26-10 MMA, 11-4 UFC), but he worked him over for 15 minutes for a unanimous decision – including a 30-25 score from one of the judges, meaning he had a pair 10-8 rounds on the UFC 234 main card at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. The main card aired on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPN and UFC Fight Pass.

Still, Simon wasn’t thoroughly pleased with his performance.

“After every fight, I don’t know why, but I’m so disappointed in myself,” Simon told MMAjunkie backstage. “I always feel like I could perform better. We put together a great game plan, and I feel like we executed. That’s something we do great: We’re able to dictate where the fight goes, and we knew where Rani wanted the fight to go. We were able to negate that.”

Yahya, Simon and his crew no doubt were certain, wanted to get the fight to the canvas and impose his jiu-jitsu skills to look for a submission. Several times, Yahya stayed on his back, inviting Simon to go to the mat with him.

But Simon kept the fight standing, and even though he had to eat a shot here and there, the strategy paid off.

Simon said one punch Yahya landed was one that was on the mark just because the Brazilian was winging punches, hoping to land a Hail Mary of sorts. That moment, Simon said he had to weather the storm. But he came through it with flying colors, and now hopes he did enough to crack into the UFC’s rankings at 135 pounds.

“I’m new in my career with the UFC, but I’m 15-1 (overall),” Simon said. “That’s a pretty good record at this point. I’m hoping I’m taking that (No.) 15 spot, breaking the top 15 (in the UFC rankings). Obviously there’s stuff I need to work on. I want to keep improving with my coaches, and I hope by the end of 2019 at least be in that top 10.”

For more from Simon, check out the video above.

And for complete coverage of UFC 234, check out the UFC Events section of the site.

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