It interfered with his honeymoon plans, but Ricky Simon knew a fight with Urijah Faber was too big an opportunity to pass up.
“I called me fiancee and said, ‘We got Urijah Faber, so we’re gonna have to postpone some things,’” Simon, a rising UFC bantamweight prospect, told Bloody Elbow.
Simon got married June 28. His honeymoon was scheduled for the same time as this weekend’s UFC Sacramento card, but luckily for him, after getting the call to fight Faber, Simon managed to change around the dates. He is now leaving with his wife next Monday, two days after he fights Faber.
“Honestly, it would probably had to have been an important fight like this one or a top 10-ranked fight,” Simon said when asked what kind of fight for which he would delay his already-scheduled honeymoon. “It wouldn’t have taken too much if someone was ranked for me to get back in there, but my fiancee has put up a lot. We’ve sacrificed a lot. It would’ve taken a big fight, and this is a big fight, so we had to do it.”
Simon, 26, has won three fights since signing with the UFC last year. The former Titan FC title challenger holds victories over Montel Jackson, Merab Dvalishvili, and most recently, veteran Rani Yahya on the UFC 234 pay-per-view main card in February. But none have been as big as his upcoming bout with Faber, who is set to return to the cage after retiring in late 2016.
But Simon doesn’t really feel starstruck. In fact, he feels comfortable ahead of this giant opportunity to cement himself as a contender at 135 pounds. Simon plans to capitalize on the big opportunity in front of him.
“It was a bit of surprise, it was cool, because I grew up watching him,” Simon said. “It’s gonna be more sweet than bitter. Don’t get me wrong: I’m excited, Urijah is a Hall of Famer and a legend. But I plan on going out there, knocking Urijah out, and starting my legacy.”
This is without a doubt the biggest fight he’s had. But toughest? Without looking past the 40-year-old “California Kid,” Simon isn’t sure about that.
“We haven’t seen Urijah in so long, but if I had to base it off Urijah’s last performance, and then if I were to compare it to Merab’s last performance or Montel’s last performance, I would say those guys are tougher right now,” Simon said. “Urijah is a legend, but he is a little bit older right now, so he’s not as quick, not as explosive. It’s definitely a tough fight, I’m not looking past him by no means, but it’s going to be interesting to see if he can keep up at his age.”
Some were puzzled when the UFC announced Faber would be fighting for the first time in two-and-a-half years against a top prospect in Simon. It’s a tougher fight than what Faber should be coming back to and there’s probably not as much to gain than if he were to fight a fellow veteran.
Simon agrees that it might not be the ideal fight for Faber, but he respects him for taking it.
“If he wanted to, I feel like he could’ve taken a fight with someone who’s around his age,” Simon said. “I think he wants to test himself, and if he can beat an up-and-comer, he’s probably not going to be too far away from another shot at another big fighter or even the title.”
So, what’s in this to gain for Simon, fighting a 40-year-old who has gone through three Christmases since the last time he stepped into the Octagon? What would a win do for his career, besides add the namevalue Faber will always have to his resume?
“I have everything to gain,” Simon said. “I’m fighting Urijah Faber in Sacramento. We’re gonna be in the limelight. It’s going to be a great opportunity to show the world what I can do once again, but on an even bigger stage. This fight is going to catapult me.”
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