The UFC's bantamweight division is arguably the deepest, most well-rounded weight class in the entire organization — and this Simón vs Bautista prediction will prove exactly why that's the case.
While one of these fighters is riding an impressive win streak and the other suffered a devastating loss in his last fight, those past results may not be as big of a factor in this weekend's fight at UFC Fight Night 234 as some would believe. At least, that's certainly what Ricky Simón is thinking.
Yet, regardless of who deserves to have their hand raised by the time this bantamweight bout's final bell rings, one Ricky Simón vs Mario Bautista prediction we feel certain about is that fans will be wishing this fight was for five rounds, rather than three.
UFC Fight Night 234: Simón vs Bautista Prediction
Ricky Simón Preview
Despite the fact that Ricky Simón — the 20-4 fighter with six KO and four submission victories — was knocked out in the fifth and final round of his main event fight against Song Yadong back in April 2023, that doesn't mean Simón should be doubted leading into this fight against Mario Bautista.
In fact, some of the impressive victories that Simón has added to his resumé across his 11 fight UFC career — including a submission win over current first-ranked bantamweight, Merab Dvalishvili, and a fantastic showing against Jack Shore in July 2022 — show that Simón is among the most elite 135 pounders in the entire UFC.
Ricky Simón's greatest asset in the octagon is his wrestling. Time and time again, Simón has been able out-wrestle his opponents; which ends up being the deciding factor in most of his victories.
Considering that our Simón vs Bautista prediction is that Simón will be at a striking disadvantage in this fight, we expect him to shoot for many takedowns throughout the bout. He'll need to be careful to avoid some of Bautista's explosive striking while doing so, but if Simón can get Bautista to the ground consistently, that will present a clear path for him to secure a decision victory.
Mario Bautista Preview
Mario Bautista — a bantamweight fighter with a 13-2 professional record, which includes three KO and six submission victories — has been on an absolute tear since the start of 2022. Over the past two years, Bautista has rattled off five straight victories; three of which came via first round submission. The most recent of these three was against Guido Cannetti in March 2023, and included a post-fight interview that endeared Bautista to many fans.
Although Bautista appears to be a better submission specialist than his opponent, our Simón vs Bautista prediction is that Bautista would be wise to keep this fight on the feet for as long as he can. Recent string of submissions aside, Bautista will be the better striker on Saturday night — and if he is willing to play the ground game with Simón, he could very well find himself on the losing end of a decision.
Then again, Bautista has proven enough through his jiu-jitsu skills that, even if he is being controlled on the ground, there's a chance he could produce an arm bar or some other flashy submission that might earn him a nice bonus on top of his initial payout. Yet, if earning the victory is what remains most important to Bautista (as it should be), then he should try to keep Simón standing on Saturday.
Ricky Simón vs Mario Bautista: Simón Earns Himself The Decision
Our official Simón vs Bautista prediction is that Ricky Simón — currently a slight -190 favorite — will win via decision.
Although Ricky Simón wrestling for three rounds might not be the most exciting outcome for the fans, that will be the last thing on Simón's mind come Saturday. Instead, all he'll be worried about is getting a win against a tough, up and coming fighter, and get himself climbing up the UFC bantamweight rankings once again. And since the least dangerous way for him to do so is by utilizing his wrestling advantage, that's what we expect him to do. Therefore, taking Simón by decision at +120 is a bet we'd recommend.
But we also wouldn't be surprised if Mario Bautista can earn himself a win at UFC Fight Night 234 this weekend by utilizing his submission skills. While Ricky Simón is a better grappler than the three fighters Bautista earned his three first round submissions against, we can't help but feel that taking Bautista via submission in the first round — which is currently at +1400 — might make your night.
It remains to be seen whether this bantamweight fight will be among the more exciting bouts during UFC Fight Night 234. Yet, we can guarantee that whichever one if these fighters manages to secure the win will have earned themselves a fight against a top-tier bantamweight the next time they enter the octagon.