UFC Vegas 72 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon: The Headliner Worth a Pre-fight Look (Saturday, Saturday April 29)

UFC Vegas 72 Odds, Pick & Prediction for Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon: The Headliner Worth a Pre-fight Look (Saturday, Saturday April 29) article feature image

Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC. Pictured: UFC bantamweight Song Yadong of China

  • Top-10 bantamweights clash in the UFC Vegas 72 main event on Saturday with Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon.
  • Simon is a small favorite over Yadong, but MMA expert Sean Zerillo thinks the value may be on the underdog.
  • Check out his breakdown for the ESPN+ headliner, including two potential bets for the fight, below.

Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon Odds

Yadong Odds
Simon Odds
4.5 (+105 / -135)
UFC Apex in Las Vegas
9:30 p.m. ET
Odds as of Saturday and via Caesars

On Saturday the UFC returns to the UFC Apex facility for UFC Vegas 72, which features an important main event for the bantamweight rankings with No. 8 contender Song Yadong meeting No. 10 Ricky Simon.

Simon enters the Las Vegas headliner on a five-fight winning streak after consecutive defeats to Yadong's coach, Uriah Faber, and Rob Font in 2019.

Saturday will mark Simon's first appearance in a UFC main event. However, he won a five-round decision previously (to win the LFA title), and his typically excellent cardio should seemingly adapt well to the championship rounds.

Yadong enters off of a loss in his first main event (against Cory Sandhagen) and carries only a 4-2-1 record in his past seven bouts. Still, he is five years younger than Simon, seemingly has a higher ceiling as a prospect, and has arguably faced and defeated better competition than his opponent.

Below, I'll provide my analysis and projections and utilize those factors to bet on the main event for UFC Fight Night: Simon vs. Yadong, which streams entirely on ESPN+ (4:30 p.m. ET).

Tale of the Tape

Avg. Fight Time10:5511:52
Weight (pounds)135 lbs.135 lbs.
Reach (inches)67"69"
Date of birth12/2/19978/31/1992
Sig Strikes Per Min4.553.04
SS Accuracy41%44%
SS Absorbed Per Min3.932.95
SS Defense59%64%
Take Down Avg0.636.55
TD Acc55%52%
TD Def71%75%
Submission Avg0.20.5

Typically, in a five-round fight, I lean toward the fighter with superior cardio and wrestling, both of which favor Simon.

Simon is a tenacious wrestler who attempts takedowns at a ridiculous pace (12.6 attempts per 15 minutes, 52% accuracy) while peppering his opponents with volume on the feet. Simon is a far better wrestler than a striker. Still, his striking has improved throughout his career, and I expect him to be competitive on the feet with Yadong for stretches.

However, Yadong is the far superior boxer. His combinations are tighter, his hand speed is quicker, and he carries significantly more power than Simon. He is also the far more durable fighter and the bigger man in general.

Simon has had a clear athleticism advantage and likely also the strength advantage in his recent run of victories; I expect him to face a far more imposing physical test against Yadong, who can use his brute force to deny takedowns and keep this fight standing in the early rounds.

As the fight continues, I expect Simon to eventually have more success landing takedowns, consolidating positions, and keeping his opponent's shoulders on the mat. Yadong tends to accept the bottom position as he tires, which is a poor tendency.

The longer Yadong's fights went with Sandhagen and Marlom "Chito" Vera, the more successful his opponents had wrestling and getting to control positions against him. Simon is a far better offensive wrestler than those opponents.

Still, if Yadong can deny the takedowns early – and keep this fight at boxing range where he can land damage – he should be able to find openings to fire combinations and potentially clip and finish Simon, in the same manner as his coach:

Last time Ricky Simon had a spotlight this big, he got dropped and stopped by Urijah Faber. Now, Simon has a chance for revenge against Faber's pupil, Yadong Song #UFCVegas72pic.twitter.com/pU4CgL9Ah8

— Shakiel Mahjouri (@Shak_Fu) April 25, 2023

I expect Simon to find his best and most consistent success down the stretch of this fight.

As Yadong slows and Simon continues to apply pressure with the grappling, he could eventually take over minute-winning and rack up control time in dominant fashion.

That said, over the first three rounds, I would expect Yadong to have a 3-0 or 2-1 lead, given the massive disparity in power between the fighters, as well as the likelihood that Yadong lands more damage, even if Simon has some success wrestling.

While Yadong's stamina held up surprisingly well in a high-paced striking battle with Sandhagen, I would still expect Simon to have the cardio edge in the championship rounds.

This should be a close and competitive fight. Yadong has more finishing upside, but Simon has the cardio and grappling advantages over five rounds, essentially justifying the pick'em pricetag on both sides.

This fight was initially booked as a three-rounder – and I would have bet more on Yadong in that fight at a similar price – but I still like his chances to get the win over 25 minutes.

Yadong vs. Simon Pick

I projected Song Yadong as a 53% favorite (-113 implied odds) in this fight and would bet his moneyline down to around -105.

From a pre-fight perspective, Yadong is the value side. I expect him to control the early action and either find a finish or have the lead on the scorecards heading into the fourth round.

At that point (or after Round 2), you might find the best possible price on Simon, who can take over with his cardio and grappling down the stretch while winning the later rounds at a far higher clip than the early ones. If you want to bet Ricky Simon, wait for a live price after Round 2 or Round 3 since Yadong's success should be frontloaded.

I see this fight ending inside the distance about as often as the market expects, so I have no play on the total. And I don't project value in the winning-method market either, though Yadong by decision (projected +529, listed +550) or KO/TKO (projected +214, listed +200) would be my leans.

Make a pre-fight moneyline wager on Yadong, and look to trade out live with Simon if you can grab good plus-money after the middle rounds.

The Picks: Song Yadong (+105 at Caesars) | Ricky Simon live after Round 3

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