UFC Vegas 72: Song Yadong takes out Ricky Simón with brutal 5th-round TKO

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - APRIL 29: (L-R) Song Yadong of China knocks out Ricky Simon in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 29, 2023 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)
Song Yadong looked like a top bantamweight on Saturday. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

Song Yadong dropped Ricky Simón, and then the horn sounded. That ended up only delaying an impressive finish for the rising UFC bantamweight.

Song defeated Simón by fifth-round TKO on Saturday in the main event of UFC Vegas 72 at Apex in Las Vegas, giving him a bounce-back win after falling to Cory Sandhagen in September. He improves his career record to 20-7-1.

He nearly came close to ending the fight at the end of the fourth round when a left knocked Simón backward, but the round came to a close before he could deliver any kind of follow-up.

History repeated less than a minute into the fifth round, and Simón didn't have any horn to save him this time. Song once again dropped him with a right, then immediately pounced on him for a good 10 seconds of ground-and-pound before referee Herb Dean stepped in to call the fight.

It was an impressive performance overall for the Chinese fighter, who entered the bout ranked eighth on the UFC's bantamweight rankings. Simón, ranked 10th, gave him a chance to show he could still be a threat in the division after the Sandhagen loss, and now he could be set up for some big fish at 135 pounds.

After the fight, Song called out Sean O'Malley, who might be on the verge of a title shot depending on the outcome of next Saturday's main event between Aljamain Sterling and Henry Cejudo, and Marlon Vera, whom Song defeated in 2020. We'll see if the UFC takes him up on either.