Ricky Simon, the LFA bantamweight champion, believes he’s ready for a UFC contract. He’s prepared to prove it when he defends his title against Vinicius Zani on March 23 at LFA 36.
He came close when he appeared on the Dana White Tuesday Night Contender Series in August. Simon won a decision against Donavon Frelow, but wasn’t signed. Urijah Faber and Snoop Dogg, who were commentating, said during the fight that they believe both Simon and Frelow would be in the UFC one day.
“I feel like I did enough but I also didn’t feel like I showed what they wanted,” Simon told MMASucka. “They want finishes. But in a high level fight, you can’t just go all out, you have to be technical.”
Alex Perez, Julio Arce and Mike Rodriguez all earned UFC contracts on the same card after each finished their opponents.
Simon feels like the UFC has been keeping a close eye on him since, however. He remembers walking up to matchmaker Sean Shelby, thanking him for the opportunity, and then asked him what he wanted him to do. Simon said Shelby told him to just stay ready.
Simon also recalls Dana White saying in a post-event interview that there was a “young fighter on the card that he wanted to see get more experience.” Simon was the youngest fighter on that card. And he has gone out and gotten more experience since then.
His last fight saw him win the vacant LFA bantamweight title in his promotional debut against Chico Camus. He defeated Camus, an eight-fight UFC veteran who has fought some top competition, via unanimous decision. Camus entered the bout on a four-fight winning streak since being cut by the UFC. Simon feels the UFC should have signed him off of that win.
“No one’s ever done to Chico what I did to him,” Simon said. “My confidence is at an all-time high. I can’t wait to show people what I can do. I’m going to keep beating people up ’til the UFC is ready to sign me.”
Simon feels he’s already heeded the UFC’s advice to him.
“I beat a UFC vet and won a world title,” he said. “I’ve stayed ready and have more experience. I’m doing what they told me to do, and I feel like I’m ready.”
“With another win next weekend, it’s undeniable.”
Simon said the day he gets the call from the UFC will be the day his dream comes true. For now, he’s in the midst of a multi-fight deal with LFA and is revving up for his first title defense. He thinks that with another dominant win, he’ll get the long-awaited contract.
“I feel with another win next weekend, it’s undeniable,” he said.
He’s 11-1 with two wins over former UFC fighters (Camus and Alex Soto), and a convincing victory on White’s Contender Series. He’ll look to add Zani to his resume.
“Zani’s a tough dude,” Simon said. “He’s great on the ground and a black belt in Jiu-Jitsu. He’s dangerous everywhere but I feel at this point, I match up great against anybody.”
While Simon said it would be great to submit a BJJ black belt, he’s predicting a mid-fight TKO win via ground and pound.
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