Song Yadong happy to be back at bantamweight
Song Yadong is a special talent. Undefeated in his last nine fights, ‘the Kung Fu Monkey’ has won five and drawn one since arriving in the UFC in 2016.
He returns to the octagon at UFC 259 this weekend to take on Kyler Phillips. His opponent is 8-1 but Song is disappointed not to have been matched with a top 15 bantamweight,
“I feel that definitely I’d like to fight a higher ranked guy, but Kyler is definitely good for me and I’ll get some good experience in this fight. I feel that Kyler is a very well-rounded fighter, and he has a good jiu-jitsu and ground skills. It’s a really good match-up,” Song said.
Ranked fighters are notoriously reticent to accept fights with opponents ranked lower than them, let alone unranked. Song is currently at #14 and probably has his eyes on fighters in the upper echelons of the division,
But having had to wait almost a year for a fight he is just grateful to be given the opportunity to compete,
“Time flies!” he said. “I had some match ups actually in between but because the opponent has some injuries and stuff (they didn’t happen) and then it goes to now, to my fight. I totally understand, the UFC has some difficulties trying to match up everybody and I appreciate that.”
Although Song appears to have fully embraced the bout, the 23-year-old is well aware that beating ranked opponents is the best way to move up in the division,
“I feel it depends. I’m ranked #14 right now. Maybe if I do a good performance it will bring me up a level, but I definitely need to fight people higher than me to bring me up. (After this,) I would like to challenge somebody in the top ten.”
Song’s last win took place at featherweight, a short-notice unanimous decision against Marlon Vera at UFC Jacksonville in May. He is open to any matchup but but the Team Alpha Male star believes 135lbs is natural territory for him,
“I feel really open about this. For the Chito fight it was short notice. Two weeks. I’m open for any fighters I can match up with. (But) I feel like my weight is bantamweight.”
Bantamweight is arguably the deepest division in the UFC at present. At the Apex in Las Vegas this weekend Petr Yan will defend the title against Aljamain Sterling.
Song hopes to have another win to his name by the time that fight begins but believes the title could change hands,
“I think Sterling will probably have more advantage in this fight,” he said.
It is a pay per view card with three title bouts. For Song it is the perfect opportunity to showcase his talents in front of a global audience and he is just happy to be back on the big stage again,
“I feel really great for being on this card, thanks to the UFC for putting me on this card and giving me more exposure”.