LAS VEGAS – Ricky Simon is still interested in facing Sean O’Malley, but thinks that’ll be up to the UFC.

When Louis Smolka, O’Malley’s original opponent for UFC 264 fell out, Simon threw his name in the hat to step in as a replacement. But O’Malley ended up drawing newcomer Kris Moutinho instead and has since battered Moutinho and scored a first-round TKO of Raulian Paiva at UFC 269.

Simon (18-3 MMA, 6-2 UFC) takes on perennial contender Raphael Assuncao (27-8 MMA, 11-5 UFC) in Saturday’s UFC Fight Night 199 main card, but wouldn’t be opposed to facing O’Malley (15-1 MMA, 7-1 UFC) next – if the UFC allows it to happen.

“I do feel like I’m on a different path maybe, but (O’Malley) looked damn good last weekend,” Simon told MMA Junkie at UFC Fight Night 199 media day. “And maybe with Dana White’s permission – because he said he’s not ready to fight the most elite in the division yet, so I don’t want to bully the kid into a fight – but maybe if he has Dana White sign a permission slip that he’s ready to fight, then we can do it.”

If Simon gets past Assuncao, he’ll likely earn a spot in the UFC’s bantamweight rankings where O’Malley recently debuted after taking out Paiva. But Simon knows a win over O’Malley has a different kind of perk than a number next to his name.

“That would definitely look good, especially with how much hype he has around him,” Simon said. “There’s a lot of people supporting him and he has a big following, so putting his ass on the canvas would look really good.”

UFC Fight Night 199 takes place Saturday at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas. The card streams on ESPN+.

Watch the full media day interview with Simon in the video above.

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