Over the last 5 years, few fighters in the Pacific Northwest have been as dominant or talked about as Ricky Simon. After opening his professional career with five straight victories, Simon became known for his dominance in the cage. His reputation made it increasingly more difficult to find fighters willing to face the talented wrestler turned mixed martial artist. Fights were announced and cancelled regularly and it would seem that people weren’t willing to gamble on the likelihood of taking a loss against Simon. An anonymous bantamweight fighter even reported to Oregon Sports News that he was offered a matchup against Simon on short notice but the very real prospect of losing wasn’t worth the price on the contract. Even with uneager opponents, Simon racked up a record of 10-1 in just 3 years. He now finds himself in a position to get his biggest win to date when he takes on former UFC fighter Chico Camus this Friday for the Legacy Fighting Alliance (LFA) bantamweight title.
Following a quality win on Dana White’s Tuesday Night Contender Series this past August, it was clear that Simon was on the radar of the UFC. Rumor has it that following his performance on the show, UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby made it clear to Simon that he was in their vision for the future and this fight at LFA 29 could be a direct result of that evenings events. LFA is an organization that the UFC routinely scouts for talent. Markus Perez, Eryk Anders, Andrea Lee and Damon Jackson all made their way to UFC via the LFA. For Simon going up against an eight-fight UFC veteran like Camus, it gives him the chance to prove that he can compete with UFC caliber talent. Should he win in dominant fashion, it would go a long way in proving he’s ready to make the next step. He is a standout of Gracie Barra Portland and has recently been spending time training with Tyson Nam (FNG, Destiny) and Louis Smolka (UFC) at Hawaii Elite MMA. With two elite MMA gyms working to prepare the young Washingtonian for this fight, it would seem that he is ready for the challenge ahead.
Chico Camus is far from an easy fight for anyone at bantamweight. He is a product of Roufusport, the Duke Roufus lead fight team in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Roufusport has produced multiple UFC champions and contenders, not to mention being home to one of the most dominant fighters the sport has ever known, Ben Askren. Camus has had an up and down relationship with his team at Roufusport having been asked to leave due to his work ethic. The push out the door motivated him, who came back to the camp and has produced some of his best work in the cage since returning. He is currently riding a three-fight win streak and has won all three in dominant fashion. Having faced multiple top-ten UFC fighters, he has a distinct experience advantage in this fight.
Simon has shown few weaknesses in his career thus far. His one weakness seems to be power punches. One such shot put him down and led to his lone defeat. Another power shot may have been the cause of his last fight ending in a split decision as opposed to a unanimous one. Camus fancies himself a power puncher but the numbers aren’t there to back it up. While Camus has excellent footwork and the ability to switch stances, most of his wins come from decisions. Additionally, Camus will be the smaller fighter on Friday night. He has said on more than one occasion he believes flyweight is his ideal weight class. Not true for Simon, who is a very powerful bantamweight. This fight will likely come down to two factors. First, who will have the advantage on the feet? Camus has superb footwork and precise strikes, while Simon tends to rely on his excellent head movement and forward pressure. If the fight stays on the feet, expect to see Simon smother Camus against the cage. Secondly, can Camus fight off the takedowns of Simon? Few have been able to stay upright when Simon wants them down and with a history of trouble against wrestlers Camus could be in for a long night.
On paper this matchup seems to favor Simon, but the veteran moxie of Camus should not be overlooked. Beyond being the main event, this fight is a top candidate for fight of the night and fans should expect nothing less when the cage door closes.