UFC Vegas 72 staff picks and predictions: Simon to quiet Song

See who we are picking for tonight's UFC Vegas 72 fight card.

By: Tim Bissell | 1 month ago
UFC Vegas 72 staff picks and predictions: Simon to quiet Song
Ricky Simon when he beat Rani Yahya at UFC 232. IMAGO / Xinhua

The UFC is back in the APEX facility tonight with a card that boasts a very good main event. The rest of the card isn’t exactly stacked with widely known or highly touted talent. But even so, we’ve looked over the bouts and locked in who we think is going to come out victorious.

For such a close fight on paper, we’re surprisingly almost all in on Ricky Simon to beat Song Yadong in the headliner. Anton and Eddie are the only holdouts there, picking Song to win by TKO (similar to how his coach Urijah Faber fared when he faced Simon).

For the co-main event we are mostly backing Caio Borralho to get past Oleksiejczuk and maintain his undefeated record in the Octagon.

Read on for the rest of our picks at UFC Vegas 72: Song vs. Simon.

UFC Vegas 72 picks

Song Yadong vs. Ricky Simon

Zane Simon: There’s a very good chance that Song Yadong just blasts Ricky Simon the same way Urijah Faber did. He’s got more than enough speed and power to get the job done, and while Simon has added a lot of comfort and a little nuance to his boxing game, he’s still not the world’s most comfortable standup striking technician.

Unfortunately for Song, however, the more the pace gets pushed and the wilder fights get, the more his decision making starts to break down. He was doing alright early against Sandhagen, but the more Sandhagen threw wrestling in and mixed up his approaches, the more Song started to fall behind. Similar with Kyler Phillips early in their fight. That seems all like bad news for the Team Alpha Male fighter here, since if we know anything about Simon it’s that he’ll offer a constant diet of wrestle boxing and scrambles. Ricky Simon via decision.

Anton Tabuena: Simon is no Sandhagen, and he will have real problems on the feet. Song Yadong by TKO.

Tim Bissell: I think this bout comes down to control, but not so much about how a fighter controls an opponent. Rather, it’s about how a fighter controls himself. Song has shown limitless potential in the division. However, part of his effectiveness (and charm) is his tendency to throw caution to the wind and push for a moment that will change the course of a fight.

Simon may not have shown us as high a ceiling, but his steadiness (a product of his intelligence and confidence) should be as respected as Song’s explosive, leaning into reckless, approach. I think Simon is tough and smart enough to weather Song’s attacks (and avoid much of it), while being composed enough to fight his game and put Song on his butt, again and again, while also getting success on the feet (through his much improved boxing). Ricky Simon by decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Song Yadong can crack, but Ricky Simon’s just got more offensive weapons. As good as Song is with his sprawls, at some point he’s going to falter and Ricky might be able to capitalize on that. Song still has power and smarts, but his technique pocket isn’t deep enough for my liking. Ricky Simon by decision.

Staff picking Song: Anton, Eddie
Staff picking Simon: Lucas, Bissell, Jack, Kristen, Dayne, Zane, Chris, Victor, Stephie

Caio Borralho vs. Michael Oleksiejczuk

Zane Simon: Maybe it’s simple prejudice at work, since I just don’t like Caio Borralho’s game, but I’m not convinced this is a great fight for the Brazilian. His slow paced, one-at-a time range game is accurate, but it has yet to prove truly dangerous. The man’s never knocked anyone out standing. And his grappling game has been entirely in wet blanket territory.

That could be enough to beat Oleksiejczuk, he’s no stranger to getting taken down. But he’s a hard fighter to just lay on and control. Every time he’s standing, especially at 185, he seems to be going berserk with heavy punching offense. Borralho honestly struggled with Makhmud Muradov on the mats. If Oleksiejczuk can hit a sweep, or even maybe his own takedown, he might just be crushing in top control. I’ll go with Michael Oleksiejczuk by TKO, round 2.

Tim Bissell: I’m glad the main event is a certified banger, because this fight is a dud in waiting. I think Borralho is going to do his best to gum up Oleksiejczuk’s game. And I don’t think Oleksiejczuk has the tools to counter that. The Pole is going to try and throw bombs, but I think Borralho (frustrating as he is to watch) has enough about him to avoid the worst of it and even use those high risk advances to his advantage, getting under Oleksiejczuk and dragging him down or against the fence. Caio Borralho via decision

Victor Rodriguez: Caio’s got some great athleticism but is also waaaaaay too raw for me to trust. On the other hand, Michael might struggle with taking some of the shots Caio lands. That doesn’t mean that he can’t give it right back to Caio, and his knack for finishes is extra nice.

This is a stiff test for Borralho against a guy that doesn’t fall for the okey-doke and he might be able to outmuscle and get past or straight beast on, but he could also be made to eat dirt when it comes to straight technique. Better hope he makes it a tactical and ugly smotherfest quick, and I’m not sure he’ll be able to do that for too long. Mikey Eyechart by TKO.

Staff picking Borralho: Bissell, Lucas, Jack, Jack, Kristen, Dayne, Eddie, Anton, Chris, Stephie
Staff picking Oleksiejczuk: Zane, Victor 

Cody Brundage vs. Rodolfo Vieira

Zane Simon: You gotta win the ground battle with the mediocre wrestle boxer who can’t really box, Vieira. You just gotta. Rodolfo Vieira via sub, round 1.

Tim Bissell: Obviously Vieira is part of a pretty decent sample size now that shows that BJJ elite status isn’t an automatic recipe for success in the Octagon. But that being said, I would be truly shocked if he can’t catch a sub here against someone who doesn’t possess an A+ ability in any of MMA’s other dimensions. Rodolfo Vieira via submission

Victor Rodriguez: Brundage is another example of a really great athlete with good fundamentals and yet not much that really stands out. Vieira has power and a million ways to hyperextend a limb. I dunno, man. Kinda hard to pick against an elite grappler that’s continuing to adapt his game to MMA effectively. Rodolfo Vieira by submission.

Staff picking Brundage: Stephie
Staff picking Vieira: Bissell, Lucas, Jack, Kristen, Dayne, Zane, Eddie, Anton, Chris, Victor

Julian Erosa vs. Fernando Padilla

Zane Simon: I will be legitimately sad if Erosa loses this fight. Padilla is a pretty uninspiring tall-man featherweight who loves to clinch fight and is very hittable at distance and takedown-able in the pocket. Erosa isn’t hard to hurt, but if Padilla can’t put him away easily, Erosa should be the more complete, technical fighter capable of carrying multiple rounds of intense action. Julian Erosa via decision.

Tim Bissell: I think Erosa has the creativity and craftiness edge on Padilla. Throw in the experience factor and I think he’ll be able to figure out his opponent on the fly and focus on the areas where he’s most likely to find success. Julian Erosa via decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Padilla has some good upside to him, but he’s not ready. Erosa has a habit of making a lot of guys look mediocre and really ramping things up as the fight goes on. Thanks for coming, kid. Sorry you gotta get a reality check the moment you came through the door. 

Staff picking Erosa: Bissell, Lucas, Jack, Kristen, Dayne, Zane, Eddie, Anton, Victor, Stephie
Staff picking Padilla: Chris

Waldo Cortes-Acosta vs. Marcos Rogerio de Lima

Zane Simon: Other than being big and fast, there’s not much to Waldo Cortes-Acosta’s game. He doesn’t have natural striking technique. He can’t wrestle, and he can’t grapple. ‘Pezao’ has always been capable of detonating his own success with a limited gas tank, but the man throws with speed, power, and precision early in fights and has learned to grind wins when he has the wrestling advantage. I think he’ll have that here. Marcos Rogerio de Lima by decision.

Tim Bissell: I think this is a good match-up, as far as being an appropriate step up and test for Cortes-Acosta. I think he’s shown enough that I’m comfortable picking him over the more experienced de Lima. I think it will be a hard shift for him, though, and one where he’ll need to show a lot of grit and diversity to get through.

I am a little worried that right now Cortes-Acosta seems to be a guy who can only win by KO and de Lima has never been stopped like that (though, he has managed to avoid a lot of the scary punchers in the heavyweight division during his UFC tenure). I think this could end up being a pretty boring boxing bout, but Cortes-Acosta’s reach and technique advantage there should be enough for the judges. Waldo Cortes-Acosta via decision.

Victor Rodriguez: Solidarity with all failed Dominican baseball prospects everywhere. May Waldo sing to you the song of my people. Hope he gets a bonus so he can escape Arizona, because that’s a fate I don’t wish on the people I like. Waldo Cortes-Acosta by TKO.

Staff picking Cortes-Acosta: Bissell, Lucas, Jack, Chris, Victor
Staff picking de Lima: Kristen, Dayne, Zane, Eddie, Anton, Stephie

Josh Quinlan vs. Trey Waters

Zane Simon: Quinlan is a beastly puncher with a slick standup game. Waters doesn’t look like he has the wrestling chops or desire to take anything but a standup fight here. Especially on short notice, that seems like bad news. Josh Quinlan via KO, round 1.

Tim Bissell: Quinlan is getting a short notice replacement here in the form of Trey Waters, having been matched up with Ange Loosa initially. I think Waters doesn’t pose as stiff a test as Loosa and in this fight Quinlan will be able to showcase his striking. The skill-gap in striking here has me thinking it could be a short night’s work for the undefeated prospect. Josh Quinlan via TKO.

Victor Rodriguez: Quinlan’s another guy I wish would get more shine, and he’ll probably show why when he gets here. The dude is slick and has good accuracy on his strikes with patient output. Nothing against Trey, I just don’t think he’s on the level of development for a fight like this. Josh Quinlan by TKO, round 2.

Staff picking Quinlan: Bissell, Lucas, Jack, Kristen, Dayne, Zane, Eddie, Anton, Chris, Victor, Stephie
Staff picking Waters:

Martin Buday vs. Jake Collier

Zane Simon: Martin Buday seems like he’s just too big and too tough for Jake Collier to go ham for 4 minutes, gas, and still take the win. Buday’s game is very simple, but…

To read the rest of our UFC Vegas 72 staff picks head on over to Substack. Now that Bloody Elbow is a fully independent site the best way to support us, so that we can continue fearless coverage of combat sports, is to pick up a paid subscription. Paid subscribers help fund other exclusive content like editorials from Karim Zidan and Jonathan Snowden and investigations by John S. Nash.

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Leader board

I’m sounding like a broken record, I know, but things remain tight at the top with Dayne leading Eddie by just one correct pick. Behind them Anton is lurking while the rest of the pack has some work to do. Shoutouts to Stephie for moving up the leader board into fifth despite having made 11 less picks than everyone else in the top seven. And a shoutout to Lucas, too, the only staffer to pick Sergei Pavlovich last time out. Now let’s see if Dayne keeps his lead after UFC Vegas 72.

PositionStafferCorrectIncorrectTotal Picks%Picks BackWeek 13 Record
1 (-)Dayne99601590.6234-6
2 (-)Eddie98611590.61614-6
3 (-)Anton93661590.58563-7
4 (-)Zane89701590.560103-7
5 (▲1)Stephie88601480.595115-5
6 (▼1)Kristen88711590.553114-6
7 (-)Bissell77821590.484223-7
8 (-)Lucas76681440.528238-2
9 (-)Chris70791490.470293-7
10 (-)Victor4233750.560573-7
11 (-)BE Community3934730.534602-5
12 (-)Jack1816340.529814-6
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About the author
Tim Bissell
Tim Bissell

Tim Bissell is a writer, editor and deputy site manager for Bloody Elbow. He has covered combat sports since 2015. Tim covers news and events and has also written longform and investigative pieces. Among Tim's specialties are the intersections between crime and combat sports. Tim has also covered head trauma, concussions and CTE in great detail.

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