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Ricky Simon reacts after his submission victory over Jack Shore of Wales in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UBS Arena on July 16, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)
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Fighters on the Rise | UFC Fight Night: Song vs Simon

Check Out The Fighters That Are Making Waves Heading Into UFC Fight Night: Song vs Simon

A second consecutive Saturday at the UFC APEX brings a card featuring a number of Dana White’s Contender Series alumni and athletes looking to continue making a name for themselves back to Las Vegas this weekend.

In addition to several graduates of the annual talent-search series and three promotional newcomers, Saturday’s fight card also features a trio of ascendant names hoping to use the most high profile matchups of their respective careers as launch points to even bigger and better opportunities in the second half of the year.

Watch UFC Fight Night: Song vs Simon On ESPN+

Here’s a closer look at those competitors in this week’s edition of Fighters on the Rise.

Ricky Simon

Ricky Simon punches Jack Shore of Wales in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UBS Arena on July 16, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Ricky Simon punches Jack Shore of Wales in a bantamweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UBS Arena on July 16, 2022 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


After picking up a third consecutive UFC victory in the early part of 2019, Simon dropped back-to-back contests to a returning Urijah Faber and perennial contender Rob Font. Since then, the bantamweight from the Pacific Northwest has not missed a beat.

The 30-year-old Simon enters Saturday’s co-main event pairing with Song Yadong on a five-fight winning streak, having earned three of those victories by stoppage, including handing Jack Shore the first loss of his career last time out.

A regional standout touted as a future contender during his early prospect days, Simon earned a split decision win over Donavon Frelow on Episode 5 of Dana White’s Contender Series (DWCS) but didn’t get a contract. He returned to the regional scene, won and successfully defended the LFA bantamweight crown, and then got the call to compete on the biggest stage in the sport a month later, debuting with a submission win over current top-ranked contender Merab Dvalishvili at the buzzer.

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Simon is one of those competitors that has always been very good, but he has taken things to an entirely different level as of late. Following the split decision win over Ray Borg that started his current run of success, he made a commitment to pursuing more finishes and being more aggressive, and it has resulted in an additional four victories and three stoppages.

This weekend’s main event pairing with Song is another step up in competition for the Fabiano Scherner-trained fighter — a date against a 25-year-old Top 10 staple coming off a loss to Cory Sandhagen in a competitive main event clash last September — and a chance for Simon to truly establish himself as a threat in the ultra-talented 135-pound ranks.

Getting into the title conversation at bantamweight is a daunting task, even once you’re stationed inside the Top 10, but a sixth straight win and a victory over Song would certainly help Simon’s case going forward.

Michal Oleksiejczuk

Michal Oleksiejczuk of Poland punches Sam Alvey in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 06, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Michal Oleksiejczuk of Poland punches Sam Alvey in a middleweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on August 06, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Oleksiejczuk went 4-2 with one no contest in his first seven UFC appearances, all of which took place at light heavyweight. He flashed dynamic boxing and a propensity for mixing in punishing body work, but also seemed a little undersized and under-developed at the time. Following a unanimous decision loss to ranked light heavyweight Dustin Jacoby at UFC 272, the Polish fighter opted to relocate to the middleweight division, where the size and strength difference between he and his opponents wouldn’t be as vast.

Through his first two starts in the 185-pound ranks, the 28-year-old has proven himself to be an intriguing addition to the division. Oleksiejczuk dispatched Sam Alvey in the first round of his middleweight debut, and then followed it up with a similar effort against Cody Brundage on the final card of 2022 to push his record to 18-5 with the aforementioned no contest.

Michal Oleksiejczuk Finishes Alvey In The 1st Round | UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Hill
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Michal Oleksiejczuk Finishes Alvey In The 1st Round | UFC Fight Night: Santos vs Hill
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Saturday night, “Hussar” steps in against surging DWCS graduate Caio Borralho in a fascinating clash of ascending middleweights.

Borralho needed two appearances on Season 5 to fully convince UFC President Dana White that he was deserving of place on the roster, and then showed he belonged with three wins in as many appearances during his 2022 rookie campaign. After a couple wins over fellow alums of the annual talent search series, the 30-year-old Brazilian collected a unanimous decision victory over Makhmud Muradov in October, extending his overall unbeaten streak to 13.

FREE FIGHTS: Ricky Simon vs Merab Dvalishvili | Song Yadong vs Julio Arce

This is a great opportunity to get a real read on where Oleksiejczuk stands in the division at the moment and potentially forecast what the next 12-18 months of his career inside the Octagon could look like, as Borralho is closer in stature to the light heavyweights that gave him trouble than the middleweight foes he’s vanquished thus far.

Should he be able to dictate the terms of engagement and rough up “The Natural,” Oleksiejczuk would likely find himself knocking on the door of the Top 15 and potentially facing someone with a number next to their name next time out.

Joshua Quinlan

Josh Quinlan reacts after his knockout over Jason Witt in a 180-pound catchweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Pechanga Arena on August 13, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Josh Quinlan reacts after his knockout over Jason Witt in a 180-pound catchweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at Pechanga Arena on August 13, 2022 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)


Quinlan’s arrival in the UFC following a blistering effort on Season 5 of Dana White’s Contender Series was delayed after the undefeated welterweight tested positive for a banned substance in his post-fight screening. The result was overturned, Quinlan was suspended, and the Hawaiian finisher took to Instagram to take full accountability for his actions.

Last summer, the 30-year-old finally made the walk for the first time, stepping in against veteran Jason Witt in mid-August. He was ready to walk back out of the Octagon just over two minutes later, having planted a left hook on Witt’s jaw that abruptly ended the contest.

Josh Quinlan Lands An Early Left Hook KO In His UFC Debut | UFC Fight Night: Vera vs Cruz
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Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

Unlock MORE of your inner combat sports fan with UFC Fight Pass! Fighting is what we live for. And no one brings you MORE live fights, new shows, and events across multiple combat sports from around the world. With a never-ending supply of fighting in every discipline, there’s always something new to watch. Leave it to the world’s authority in MMA to bring you the Ultimate 24/7 platform for MORE combat sports, UFC Fight Pass!

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Josh Quinlan Lands An Early Left Hook KO In His UFC Debut | UFC Fight Night: Vera vs Cruz
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This weekend, the undefeated knockout artist returns to action against late replacement Trey Waters in what should be another measuring stick moment for the intriguing welterweight.

Getting another early stoppage would be a big feather in the cap of Quinlan, who has finished everyone he’s faced as a professional, as it will show that he’s someone to pay close attention to as he continues working forward in the welterweight division.

UFC Fight Night: Song vs Simon took place live from the UFC APEX in Las Vegas on April 29, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass