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Rani Yahya vs. Ricky Simon - 2/9/19 UFC 234 Pick, Odds, and Prediction

Rani Yahya vs. Ricky Simon
Date & Time Saturday February 9, 2019, 11:00 PM (EST)
Rod Laver Arena
Melbourne, Australia
The Line
The Line: Simon -122 / Yahya +108 -- Over/Under:
TV Channel
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Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Rani Yahya and Ricky Simon fight Saturday during UFC 234 at the Rod Laver Arena.

Rani Yahya enters this fight with a 26-9 record and has won 77 percent of his fights by submission. Yahya has won seven of his last eight fights and is coming off a August win over Luke Sanders. Yahya is averaging 1.48 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 38 percent. Yahya is averaging 3.13 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 34 percent. Yahya still hasn’t lost since his 2017 bout against Joe Soto, and each of his last three wins have come by submission. There’s no surprises with Yahya in the octagon, as his grappling and submission wrestling ability are well documented. Yahya wastes no time trying to throw strikes, as he’s attempted 126 takedowns on the UFC level and is constantly looking to shoot to get the fight on the canvas. Once Yahya gets the fight where he wants it, he’s a nightmare from the top position and is used to lengthy complex battles to find that submission hold. Crazy enough, despite nearly all of Yahya’s fights ending on the ground, he’s only lost once by submission. Yahya is a nightmare for opponents on the canvas and doesn’t need much to end a fight. This will be Yahya’s first career fight in Australia.

Ricky Simon enters this fight with a 14-1 record and has won 50 percent of his fights by decision. Simon has won each of his last seven fights and is coming off a August win over Montel Jackson. Simon is averaging 1.97 significant strikes per minute with an accuracy percentage of 37 percent. Simon is averaging 4.5 takedowns with an accuracy percentage of 33 percent. Simon is now 3-0 under the UFC banner and is coming off a decision victory in which he produced 14 takedowns. Simon is a physical takedown artist who loves the spear approach, as he lands on top of his opponent and usually unleashes a viscous ground and pound. Simon has some explosive athleticism to him and can more than hold his own standing up where he has a versatile striking attack. Simon is a balanced fighter who has been on the rise the last couple of years, and if he wins this bout, it puts himself in a new class within the bantamweight division. This will be Simon’s first career fight outside of the United States.

This is going to be one of the best fights on the card and a chess match between two guys who enjoy the ground game but approach it in different ways. Yahya is a wrestling machine who rarely gets caught out of position and needs the slightest opening to lock in a submission hold. Simon is a physical, aggressive fighter who mixes in more strikes with his takedowns and can produce a knockout if his opponent isn’t careful. Fun fight overall. As for who wins, I give the edge to Simon because of his balance. He’s a fighter who has been waiting for moments like this and has the potential to become a star in due time. Yahya can’t rush in with his takedowns like previous opponents, as Simon has some pop in his strikes and can easily turn this fight with one clean shot. This is a bout where Yahya could struggle getting his way.

I’ll side with Simon to keep his momentum going.

Ricky Simon

Randy Chambers has been with Sports Chat Place since 2014 and covers everything from the NFL to WNBA and tennis. Nobody works harder in this business in terms of content produced and amount of sports covered. Formerly a lead college football writer with Bleacher Report and has had his work featured at Fox Sports, CBS Sports and various other outlets.

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