Aaron Simpson wanted to stay active after a knockout loss to Mike Pierce in the UFC, but he needed to find a new place to call home. Where was he to go? The answer turned out to be the upstart World Series of Fighting organization.

The move to the WSOF came after Simpson’s manager, Dave Martin, talked to UFC matchmaker Joe Silva some time after Pierce’s win over Simpson. With Strikeforce welterweight talent set to join the UFC, along with a bevy of fresh talent from The Ultimate Fighter lining up, another fight for Simpson in the UFC proved difficult. Despite the belief that the UFC released him, Martin went on to reveal that Simpson’s contract expired with no hard feelings. With the UFC not looking to offer Simpson a chance to re-up, the fighter used the opportunity to look for competition elsewhere.

“It was basically saying that it would be hard to necessarily get fights,” Simpson told The MMA Corner in an exclusive interview. “And we’d like to fight, so we were looking at going to another organization. So we looked at Bellator, and World Series seemed like the best fit, so it was just a tough several months before we knew what we were doing.”

Bellator MMA continues to build steam on a weekly basis, and it holds regard as arguably one of the top promotions outside of the UFC. However, part of why Simpson saw WSOF as the best fit came in the form of when he could get back into the cage. Bellator just couldn’t offer what Simpson was seeking.

“They don’t fight until September,” Simpson said, “Their next tournament isn’t until September. I wasn’t ready to fight in their January tournament, and they’re doing great things over [in Bellator], but ultimately, I didn’t feel the most comfortable in Bellator. I felt like, with the World Series, I liked what they were doing. I was involved with some good people, these people have been shooting us straight, and [things with WSOF] have been real good. They’ve been great to deal with, and it was better dealing with World Series.”

Now, he looks forward to his first test when “The People’s Warrior” Josh Burkman stands across the cage from him this weekend in Atlantic City, N.J. While Simpson looks to rebound from the Pierce loss, Burkman seeks to extend a three-fight winning streak, which includes a victory against Gerald Harris in the WSOF’s inaugural show.

As Simpson prepares for his first outing in the WSOF, he faces a durable adversary in Burkman. A fellow UFC veteran, Burkman stands as 6-1 in his last seven bouts. In 33 pro bouts, he only owns five submission losses and four decision losses. The experience and style of Burkman, as well as the fact that the veteran has never suffered a TKO or a knockout, make for a compelling contest, and those facts excite Simpson.

“He’s had a lot of experience,” Simpson said. “The dude’s pretty well-rounded across the board. He’s a true mixed martial artist, and I think he can wrestle, he can strike, he can grapple, and he’s fought for decisions. I’ve gone to decisions in my last several fights, so I think it looks to be an interesting fight.”

Ask Simpson if he ever will look past an opponent like Burkman, and the answer won’t surprise you. As much as anyone, Simpson acknowledges the unpredictability that comes with “the hurt business” and the bouts that take place within it.

“It’s the fight game. Anything can happen, and there’s not a whole lot more I can say past that,” he explained. “It’s ignorant to predict something, and I can say, ‘I’m going to get a knockout’, or ‘I’m going to submit him,’ but ultimately, I’m going to go out there and I’m going to perform, and I would imagine that he is planning on doing the same thing.

“There’s no prediction for me at this point, and that’s kind of the line. Jon Fitch, guys like that, that are just coming on board, they’ve got their fights lined up. They’re not looking ahead. In this game, you can’t. A fight is a fight, and you can’t look ahead, because it’ll get you.”

However, with 2009 marking the last time that Simpson claimed a finish in a victory, the former NCAA Division I wrestler wouldn’t mind avoiding the judges on Saturday.

“We’ll scrap for three rounds, and I don’t know if this will go to a decision, too,” Simpson said. “I’ll be looking to get a finish. It’s long overdue for me, and I especially feel I can do it in the welterweight division, but that being said, I don’t really know that he’s the easiest guy to finish.”

Although the end result of the bout is not a topic Simpson cares to speculate on, he did promise one thing for Burkman: “Pain.”

Photo Aaron Simpson (blue gloves} who debuts at WSOF 2 against Josh Burkman (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

About The Author

Dale De Souza
Staff Writer

Dale De Souza is a 22-year-old kid straight out of Texas, who grew up around Professional Wrestling but embraced the beauty of Mixed Martial Arts and Combat Sports at a young age. Dale is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report MMA, a writer at The MMA Corner.

  • Chris

    A-Train has serious power, and I’d like to see it translate at 170. Should be a tough, scrappy fight, whoever wins will have seriously earned it.