Following a disappointing end to his 2016, bantamweight Ricky Simon had his strongest year of his career in 2017.
Simon was able to go undefeated in four fights in 2017 and work his way up to the national stage and earn himself his first major MMA championship.
“It was a big year because 2016 sucked so bad,” Simon told MMAWeekly.com. “I took my first loss ever in my career (in 2016). I couldn’t get a fight. But 2017 was a great year because I was able to get four wins, with two of them on big stages; on Contenders Series, then capturing that LFA title against a UFC vet.”
Unlike some fighters who might make big changes following a loss, for Simon, his defeat to Anderson dos Santos at Titan FC 37 in March of 2016 didn’t have him erasing the drawing board. Instead, Simon stayed the course and was able to put together a winning streak.
“I didn’t really change up anything,” said Simon. “I honestly felt good in that fight. I was just learning how to deal with a loss. I made a mistake in the fight. I still believe in my coaches. I still believe in what I’m doing. It’s just sometimes you get caught in this sport.”
While Simon is happy with the wins he was able to put together in 2017, he still feels like he has a long way to go before showing what he’s truly capable of in a fight.
“I’m definitely my biggest critic,” Simon said. “I still feel like haven’t shown what I can do in there as far as putting everything together. I do feel like I do a lot of things well like my aggression and my ability to compete with high level competition and rise to the challenge.”
On Friday in Cabazon, Calif., Simon (11-1) will look to defend his LFA championship for the first time when he takes on challenger Vinicius Zani (11-4) in a 135-pound championship main event.
“I feel like Zani is dangerous everywhere, but I’m confident in my abilities,” said Simon. “I’ve got to do what I did in that last fight and push the pace and dictate where the fight goes.”
With an LFA title to his credit and multiple wins in a row, it could just be a matter of time before Simon makes his move up to the next level, but rather than focus on that, his mind is set to each fight in front of him.
“I feel like I’ve already shown that I am able to compete at the highest level by defeating UFC and Bellator vets, so I’m done playing that guessing game of what I need to do,” Simon said. “I’m going to keep doing what works, and that is beating people up.”