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Stop us if you’ve heard this one: Ricky Simon is going to face Brian Kelleher soon.
On Thursday, Bloody Canvas first reported that Simon (17-3) and Kelleher (22-11) have been matched up against one another again for an upcoming Ultimate Fighting Championship event. Barring another intervening issue, the two bantamweights will finally square off at UFC 258, which is set to go down on Feb. 13 in Las Vegas at the UFC Apex. While taunting his opponent, Simon confirmed the pairing on his Instagram shortly after the report came out.
The two were originally slated to lock horns at UFC Fight Night 176 in September 2020, but the match fell through when one of Simon’s cornermen tested positive for COVID-19. The second attempt to put this fight together came for UFC on ABC 1 in January, but Kelleher himself tested positive for COVID-19. Unless Kelleher is still struggling with recovery – and his Instagram account shows him in the gym as of late – the two will finally get to throw down in a few weeks.
When Simon fell off the September 2020 card, Kelleher welcomed Ray Rodriguez to the Octagon, and he hit a guillotine choke in 39 seconds to secure the emphatic win. The victory rebounded “Boom” back from a one-sided decision loss to Cody Stamann earlier that year. Since making his UFC debut in 2017, the well-experienced Kelleher has notched victories over names like Renan Barao, Iuri Alcantara and Hunter Azure. Collecting five post-fight bonuses along the way, “Boom” posts an impressive career finish rate of 82 percent.
Like his opponent, Simon also took a bout when a fight with Kelleher fell through, as he faced newcomer Gaetano Pirrello at UFC on ESPN 20 in January. The tapout of the Belgian fighter by arm-triangle choke, Simon landed just the third in his career by submission, and his first since a history-making 2018 technical submission guillotine choke of Merab Dvalishvili at the five-minute mark of round three. The record still stands as the latest finish in any three-round UFC fight.
UFC 258 takes place on Feb. 13 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, where it will be capped off by a welterweight championship affair pitting champ Kamaru Usman against the surging Gilbert Burns. The co-main event comes in a rematch between Chris Weidman and Uriah Hall at middleweight. Elsewhere on the main card, Maycee Barber takes on Alexa Grasso at strawweight, while Kelvin Gastelum tangles with Ian Heinisch at 185 pounds.
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