UFC Fight Night Report: Song Yadong stops Ricky Simon in the final round
On Saturday evening, the UFC held a Fight Night event from the Apex Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada. The card was originally scheduled to be headlined by a lightweight bout between Arman Tsarukyan and Renato Moicano, but an injury to Moicano forced him to withdraw from the fight, and on two week’s notice, Song Yadong, and Ricky Simon stepped into the main event slot, changing their initially scheduled three-round bout to a five-round fight. Simon had won five consecutive bouts going into this fight, highlighted by a knockout victory over long-time contender Rafael Assuncao in December of 2021. Song was coming into this fight off of a stoppage loss to Cory Sandhagen, but despite the result, it was an impressive performance from Song against a tough opponent, and he was looking to get back on track and defend his spot in the rankings against Simon here. This card also featured a fight in the middleweight division between one of the greatest grapplers to transition to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts, Rodolfo Vieira, and Cody Brundage, a dangerous fighter who had finished seven of his eight professional wins going into this one.
Brendan Fitzgerald provided commentary for this card, alongside Daniel Cormier and Dominick Cruz. Performance of the Night bonuses were awarded to Song Yadong, Caio Borralho, Rodolfo Vieira, and Marcus McGhee.
- Jamey-Lyn Horth def. Hailey Cowan by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
- Marcus McGhee def. Journey Newson by rear naked choke at 2:03 of Round 2
- Irina Alekseeva def. Stephanie Egger by kneebar at 2:11 of Round 1
- Cody Durden def. Charles Johnson by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Martin Buday def. Jake Collier by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
- Trey Waters def. Josh Quinlan by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
- Marcos Rogerio de Lima def. Waldo Cortes-Acosta by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
- Fernando Padilla def. Julian Erosa by TKO at 1:41 of Round 1
- Rodolfo Vieira def. Cody Brundage by arm triangle at 1:28 of Round 2
- Caio Borralho def. Michal Oleksiejczuk by rear naked choke at 2:49 of Round 2
- Song Yadong def. Ricky Simon by TKO at 1:10 of Round 5
HAILEY COWAN (7-2, 137.5) VS JAMEY-LYN HORTH (5-0, 135.5) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Cowan missed weight by 1.5 lbs and was fined 20% of her purse.
Horth found a home for a pair of hard body kicks in the opening minutes of the fight. Cowan was throwing her strikes in combination, looking to catch Horth with a head kick after one of her short combinations, but Horth was able to avoid her early attempts. A spinning back kick from Horth caught Cowan in the body, pushing her back into the cage, where the fighters began to battle in the clinch. Both women landed solid shots in the clinch, and Horth connected with a strong hook when the fighters broke apart, before landing a head kick. Cowan shot for a takedown, but Horth was able to defend the attempt, ending the round on her feet. 10-9 Horth.
Cowan immediately brought Horth back into the clinch at the start of round two, where Horth defended Cowan’s attempts to bring the fight to the ground. Horth seemed to be pulling ahead on the feet, landing numerous straight right hands, but Horth threw another kick to the body, and this time, Cowan was able to grab the leg before dragging Horth to the ground. Horth escaped to her feet relatively quickly but seemed to be slowing down as Cowan pressured forward. Cowan connected with an uppercut before re-engaging Horth in the clinch against the cage. This was a very close round, but I gave the slight edge to Horth for her early work. 20-18 Horth.
Horth began the final round with another body kick before Cowan brought the fight back to the fence. A fence grab seemed to keep Horth on her feet as Cowan looked to take the fight to the ground, but if the foul occurred, it went uncalled, and no point was deducted. Eventually, the fighters did go to the ground, but it was Horth who took the advantageous position before the fighters returned to their feet. Horth went back to attacking the body of Cowan, landing a powerful right hand to the head as well. Cowan’s activity seemed to wane late in the fight, and despite a takedown in the fight’s final minute, I scored the round for Horth. 30-27 Horth.
WINNER: Jamey-Lyn Horth by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
These fighters were very evenly matched throughout the fight, but I thought Horth held the slight edge on the feet, which earned her every round on my scorecard after Cowan spent a considerable amount of time looking for unsuccessful takedowns. Horth attacked the body with kicks early, which allowed her to sneak in a number of head kicks throughout the bout, and ultimately, those head kicks may have been the difference maker in what was otherwise a competitive final round. This marked Horth’s UFC debut.
MARCUS MCGHEE (6-1, 140) VS JOURNEY NEWSON (10-4, 1 NC, 138.5) – CATCHWEIGHT
McGhee was constantly throwing out kicks throughout the early minutes of the fight, looking to put Newson away quickly. Newson remained composed, waiting for McGhee’s pace to slow, but McGhee was controlling the range well, landing numerous powerful left hands. Eventually, Newson opted to change levels in search of a takedown, but McGhee’s defense held up well, and the fight continued to play out on the feet. McGhee’s aggression was the difference maker in the opening round, and I had him up on the scorecards going into round two.
McGhee caught Newson with a right hand as Newson pressed forward at the start of round two. The fighters began to wrestle in the clinch, and when they separated, McGhee caught Newson with a left hand that dropped him hard. McGhee followed Newson to the ground, and he locked in a rear naked choke to finish the fight.
WINNER: Marcus McGhee by rear naked choke at 2:03 of Round 2
McGhee took this fight on extremely short notice after Newson’s original opponent, Brian Kelleher, was forced to withdraw from the bout on fight week. Despite taking the fight on such short notice, McGhee pushed a heavy pace from the opening seconds of the fight until the finish, overwhelming Newson on the feet with his constant flurries of offense, defending Newson’s attempts to take the fight to the ground as well. It was an extremely impressive performance on such short notice, and about as impressive of a UFC debut as you will see given the circumstances. McGhee improved to 7-1 professionally with this win, with stoppages in each of his victories.
STEPHANIE EGGER (8-3, 135) VS IRINA ALEKSEEVA (4-1, 140) – BANTAMWEIGHT
Alekseeva missed the bantamweight limit by 4lbs and was fined 30% of her purse.
Alekseeva was the more active fighter in the opening minutes, really loading up on her strikes, with the clear intent of finishing the fight quickly. Egger weathered the early storm and took the fight to the ground, but Alekseeva countered with a kneebar attempt that quickly forced Egger to submit.
WINNER: Irina Alekseeva by kneebar at 2:11 of Round 1
Alekseeva missed weight by a drastic amount, and she was in need of a big performance to overshadow that miss. She achieved that here by finishing the fight in less than three minutes, quickly submitting Egger with a kneebar to bring home the win in her UFC debut. Kneebar finishes are rare in the UFC, but she committed to the submission just seconds after Egger secured the takedown, and her risk paid off big time, as Alekseeva recorded her second career submission victory.
CODY DURDEN (14-4-1, 126) VS CHARLES JOHNSON (13-4, 125.5) – FLYWEIGHT
Durden quickly secured a takedown, taking the back of Johnson in the fights opening minute. Johnson made it back to his feet, but Durden locked in a body triangle, allowing him to continue searching for a rear naked choke from his back. Johnson defended the submission attempts from Durden, and was finally able to create some separation with two minutes to work. A leg kick from Durden tripped Johnson back to the ground momentarily, and Durden caught him with a short hook as Johnson picked himself up. Durden secured one more takedown in the round’s final minute, but Johnson was able to counter with a reverse triangle choke attempt, which was his best moment of the opening round. 10-9 Durden.
Durden continued to outwrestle Johnson in the second round, quickly securing another takedown. Johnson was doing his absolute best to escape from under Durden, but Durden was relentless, constantly making Johnson work for each and every movement and positional change, exhausting his opponent. Much like the previous round, Johnson was able to escape to his feet near the end of the round, but the clock was very much working against him by this point in the fight, and he was unable to make something happen that would steal him back this second round. 20-18 Durden.
Johnson went on the attack at the start of round three, clearly with the knowledge that he was in need of a finish. Johnson defended Durden’s first attempt at bringing the fight to the ground, and the fighters began to brawl, as both men looked to secure a late finish. Johnson defended another two takedown attempts from Durden, and it seemed as though the momentum of the fight had very much shifted with two and a half minutes remaining in the final round. Just when Johnson seemed to be mounting a comeback, Durden changed levels and secured a takedown, taking the back of Johnson as Johnson returned to his feet. Durden was able to maintain his position for the remainder of the fight, and the bout went the distance. 30-27 Durden.
WINNER: Cody Durden by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
Durden dominated Johnson with his grappling throughout the first two rounds, taking him down at will, and largely keeping Johnson down after bringing him there. Johnson was never content to give up top position, but Durden made him work for every single moment, which led to both fighters being quite tired by the final round. This played to Johnson’s advantage, as he was able to defend the exhausted Durden’s takedown attempts for the first half of the round, keeping the fight on the feet, but eventually, Durden was able to bring the fight back to his comfort zone to secure the win. It was a very strong performance from Durden, who has now won three consecutive fights and called for a ranked opponent after his win.
MARTIN BUDAY (11-1, 265) VS JAKE COLLIER (13-8, 265.5) – HEAVYWEIGHT
The fighters immediately started brawling as Collier looked to force an early finish. Both fighters were landing some absolute bombs, but they remained on their feet, and the pace eventually began to slow. Collier found success with his jab, catching Buday repeatedly on his way in, and he was mixing in some heavy body shots as well. A big right hand from Buday seemed to stun Collier, but he tripped after throwing a body kick, and Collier took top position on the ground, a position in which he was able to maintain until time expired. 10-9 Collier.
Buday connected with a number of solid counters as Collier pressured forward at the start of the second round. Collier engaged Buday in the clinch, where he chose to hold him against the cage for some time. Eventually, Buday was able to break away with a series of knees to the body, and it was clear that those knees were doing significant damage whenever they connected. Still, Collier was largely able to keep Buday pressed against the cage, where the two exhausted fighters battled for positioning until the horn sounded, signaling the end of the round. 19-19.
After a brief period of exchanging strikes on the feet, the fight returned to the battle in the clinch against the cage in the third round. An accidental eye poke to Collier resulted in the fight being paused as the doctor was brought in to check on Collier. Eventually, it was decided that Collier could continue fighting, and the action resumed. Both fighters attempted to work their jab before Collier brought the fight back to the clinch, where he attacked the body of Buday with short right hands. In the round’s final minute, Buday secured a takedown and quickly moved into full mount, but he was too tired to posture up, and the fight went the distance. 29-28 Buday.
WINNER: Martin Buday by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Collier began the fight very aggressively, and took the first round in decisive fashion, simply by pressuring forward and outworking Buday. Collier had gassed by the second round however, and while Buday was tired as well, he remained a step ahead of Collier, largely due to the big knees he was landing as Collier attempted to hold him against the cage. The final ten minutes of this fight were a drag, which was not helped at all by a lengthy pause in the action following a nasty eye poke to Collier, but regardless of the fight’s quality, Buday had his arm raised in the end, improving his UFC record to 3-0, with all three of those wins coming by decision.
JOSH QUINLAN (6-0, 1 NC, 169) VS TREY WATERS (7-1, 136) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Waters immediately tripped Quinlan with an inside leg kick, but Quinlan picked himself up and started hunting for a takedown. Waters defended his attempt, and the fighters separated with three and a half minutes to work. Waters was using his reach advantage well, catching Quinlan on his way in repeatedly. Quinlan was never really able to get going throughout this first round, and I thought Waters took the first five minutes with his strong counter-based offense. 10-9 Waters.
Quinlan opened up the second round with a powerful shot that Waters took well. Waters found early success with his jab in the second round, as Quinlan looked to catch Waters with some heavier left hooks. Quinlan changed levels as he attempted to take the fight to the ground, but Waters defended the attempt and continued to look for opportunities to counter Quinlan on his way in. Quinlan was finding success whenever he attacked the lead leg of Waters, but he was not throwing it quite often enough to impact the fight. This was a closer round than the first was, but I still gave the slight edge to Waters. 20-18 Waters.
Waters rocked Quinlan with a short combination of strikes early in the third round. Quinlan recovered quickly, but Waters was really chaining his strikes together well, and Quinlan was in desperate need of a big moment if he wanted to win this fight. Waters takedown defense continued to hold up, and he connected with another big right hand that hurt Quinlan. Once again, Quinlan was able to recover quickly, showcasing a strong poker face, but the damage was done, and he was unable to generate a fight-changing moment before the final horn sounded. 30-27 Waters.
WINNER: Trey Waters by unanimous decision (30-27 all)
I was very impressed by Trey Waters here. Quinlan brought the fight to Waters for fifteen minutes, but Waters did an excellent job of countering Quinlan whenever he attempted to work his way in, and he was able to avoid the vast majority of the bombs Quinlan was throwing his way, all while out landing his opponent by a significant amount. In the third round, Waters really started going on the attack, chaining his punches together in combination, and rocking Quinlan repeatedly. Quinlan showcased a great deal of durability to make it to the final horn here, but in the end, this was Trey Waters’ night, and he took home the win in his UFC debut.
MARCOS ROGERIO DE LIMA (20-8-1, 262.5) VS WALDO CORTES-ACOSTA (14-7, 258) – HEAVYWEIGHT
Marcos Rogerio de Lima landed the first big shot of the fight, which prompted Cortes-Acosta to fire back with some heavy blows of his own. Cortes-Acosta was quickly backed up by a number of powerful low kicks from de Lima, who soon secured a takedown, taking top position with over three minutes to work. Cortes-Acosta escaped to his feet but was clearly still feeling those leg kicks from de Lima, and shot for a takedown of his own. The takedown attempt was unsuccessful, and de Lima continued to brutalize the lead leg of Cortes-Acosta with leg kicks. 10-9 de Lima.
Every single leg kick from de Lima was doing significant damage, and he was mixing in the occasional powerful right hand to the head as well, which has Cortes-Acosta circling the cage as he attempted to create some distance. Eventually, de Lima opted to take the fight back to the ground, where he largely dominated Cortes-Acosta from top position until the round’s final minute. Cortes-Acosta escaped to his feet and managed to check a leg kick, which hurt de Lima, prompting de Lima to shoot for another takedown. Cortes-Acosta defended the attempt but was certainly down on the scorecards going into round three. 20-18 de Lima.
The fighters traded calf kicks to begin the final round, with de Lima’s naturally having more effect. Cortes-Acosta landed a spinning back kick to the body, as de Lima continued to beat up the lead leg of Cortes-Acosta, which I have to imagine was being held together by sheer willpower by this point in the fight. Cortes-Acosta seemed to have the advantage over de Lima in terms of cardio, as he appeared to be the fresher fighter, but so much damage had been done to his lead leg that he was unable to really go on the attack and was forced to fight defensively as a result. The fight went the distance, and I scored the bout 30-27 in favor of de Lima.
WINNER: Marcos Rogerio de Lima by unanimous decision (29-28 all)
Cortes-Acosta took an immense level of damage to his lead leg throughout this fight, but to his credit, he fought through the pain and went on to mount a late comeback to win the final round on all three judges’ scorecards. Still, this fight was largely a beatdown from de Lima, who was really just dominating this fight until he started to gas from the lengthy wrestling exchanges in the second round. It was one of his better performances in the UFC to date, and certainly the best he has ever looked in a fight that went the distance. Marcos Rogerio de Lima has now won four of his last five fights.
JULIAN EROSA (28-10, 145.5) VS FERNANDO PADILLA (14-4, 145.5) – FEATHERWEIGHT
Padilla rocked Erosa with a strong combination just outside of the opening minute of the fight, dropping him after a number of punches found their target. Erosa did his best to recover, but another hard right hand sent him back to the ground, and referee Chris Tognoni stepped in to stop the fight as Erosa picked himself up.
WINNER: Fernando Padilla by TKO at 1:41 of Round 1
There was some debate regarding the stoppage, as Erosa seemed to have popped back to his feet just as the fight was being waived off. It was certainly a tough call in the heat of the moment, and I do not fault referee Chris Tognoni for stepping in when he did, but I did think the stoppage was a bit early, despite the damage Erosa had taken prior to the stoppage. Regardless of my thoughts on the stoppage, this was an excellent performance from Padilla, who caught Erosa with a good shot and capitalized immediately, finding his target repeatedly with pinpoint accuracy as he flurried forward to finish the fight. This fight marked Padilla’s UFC debut.
RODOLFO VIEIRA (8-2, 186) VS CODY BRUNDAGE (8-3, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Brundage immediately went on the attack to start the fight, lunging in with some huge overhand rights. Eventually, Vieira managed to wrap Brundage up, where he began to search for a takedown, but Brundage’s defense held up well, and he managed to open up a cut near the left eye of Vieira. An accidental low blow to Brundage separated the fighters, and Brundage dropped Vieira hard as the action resumed. It looked as though the fight was on the verge of being stopped, but Vieira managed to recover, and he worked his way into top position with a minute remaining in the round. Vieira did good work throughout the final minute, but could not secure the finish before time expired.
Vieira started the second round with a takedown, and Brundage attempted to counter with an ill-advised guillotine choke. Vieira avoided the submission, and quickly locked in an arm triangle, forcing Brundage to submit.
WINNER: Rodolfo Vieira by arm triangle at 1:28 of Round 2
Jumping for a guillotine choke against one of the most accomplished grapplers to ever transition to Mixed Martial Arts was a questionable move, and unfortunately for Brundage, his gamble did not pay off here, as he was quickly submitted by Vieira. It was certainly a crushing result for Brundage, who was very close to finishing the fight after dropping Vieira in the first round, but Vieira showcased a great deal of resilience, picking up his fourth UFC win here, with all four of those wins coming by way of submission.
CAIO BORRALHO (13-1, 1 NC, 185.5) VS MICHAL OLEKSIEJCZUK (18-5, 1 NC, 185.5) – MIDDLEWEIGHT
Oleksiejczuk pressured forward to begin the fight, looking to end the night quickly, as he threw each strike with power. A heavy left hand from Oleksiejczuk found its target, but Borralho was actively attacking the lead leg of Oleksiejczuk as he attempted to slow Oleksiejczuk’s attack. A lead right hook from Borralho landed clean, and he followed that up with a takedown attempt that was defended by Oleksiejczuk. Oleksiejczuk wrapped Borralho up in the clinch against the cage, but an unintentional low blow led to the fighters being separated. The fighters exchanged knees to the body before Borralho successfully took Oleksiejczuk to the ground, where he kept him until time expired.
Borralho quickly brought the fight back to the ground in the second round. Borralho worked his way to the back of Oleksiejczuk, where he trapped Oleksiejczuk in a body triangle, before locking in a rear naked choke, forcing Oleksiejczuk to tap.
WINNER: Caio Borralho by rear naked choke at 2:49 of Round 2
Oleksiejczuk brought the fight to Borralho here, and it led to early success, but as the fight progressed, Borralho adjusted and started to fire back, ultimately opting to take the fight to the ground where he secured the finish. Oleksiejczuk has looked good since dropping down to middleweight, but Borralho was clearly a few steps ahead of him on the ground, allowing him to largely dominate the fight once he successfully took Oleksiejczuk to the ground. Borralho is now 4-0 in the UFC, with this marking his first stoppage victory in the promotion. After his win, Borralho called out Derek Brunson, who may or may not currently be retired.
SONG YADONG (19-7-1, 1 NC, 136) VS RICKY SIMON (20-3, 136) – BANTAMWEIGHT
The fighters touched gloves to begin the main event. The fight significant strike of the fight went to Song after he landed a damaging leg kick. Neither fighter was terribly active, as the opening round was largely a feeling-out process, but there was a lengthy battle in the clinch against the cage following a pair of jabs from Simon that resulted in a stalemate before the fighters separated. I gave the slight edge in round one to Simon.
Song flurried forward in the opening minute of round two, rocking Simon before an accidental clash of heads dropped Simon momentarily against the cage. Simon recovered quickly, and secured a takedown, briefly taking top position before Song escaped to his feet. Song was throwing with power on the feet, fighting with more confidence after hurting Simon earlier in the round. A pair of left hooks from Song found their target before he opted to dig into the body. Song was looking fantastic as he went on the attack here, really beating up the body of Simon, and Simon did not offer much himself until the end of the round, where he secured a late takedown.
Simon briefly took Song to the ground at the start of the third round, but Song popped right back to his feet. A punch from Song landed low, and Simon was given time to recover from the heavy shot. Song defended a takedown from Simon as the action resumed, but the threat of the takedown had slowed Song’s offense. Still, Song was clearly not threatened by Simon’s striking, and continued to march forward, attacking the body and lead leg of Simon. The fighters traded heavy right hands before a left hand from Song got a big reaction from Simon. Song landed some very solid combinations toward the end of this round, and I thought he secured this one late.
Song began the fourth round with a strong combination to the body, following an attempted flying knee from Simon. Song defended a trio of takedown attempts in impressive fashion, and he continued to march forward, attacking the body. Song was outboxing Simon, as Simon attempted to look for opportunities to change levels, but Song’s defense was too good, and the round played out on the feet. Simon landed a solid left hand in the round’s final minute, following a short right hook from Song. In the final seconds of the round, Song landed a left hand that most certainly would have ended the fight if there was any time remaining, but Simon was saved by the bell.
A big right hand from Song found its target at the start of the fight’s final round. Moments later, a left hand from Song dropped Simon hard, and Song proceeded to just swarm Simon with strikes on the ground, hurting him repeatedly, until the fight was stopped.
WINNER: Song Yadong by TKO at 1:10 of Round 5
Song’s boxing was on full display against Simon here, finding great success throughout the bout with his combinations to the head and body. Simon is a wrestler, and he did his best to get the fight to the ground, but Simon showcased some excellent takedown defense, and the few times in which Simon did get him down, Song was able to quickly escape to his feet. It was a tremendous performance, completed by the fifth-round finish that put an exclamation mark on his win. After the fight, Song called out Sean O’Malley, as well as Marlon Vera. I do not think it’s likely that he will get O’Malley in his next fight, but Vera is certainly a possibility, as Vera is fresh off of a loss, and surely looking to avenge his debated decision loss to Song from May of 2020.