Josh Burkman has recorded six wins in his last seven outings. | Photo: D. Mandel/Sherdog.com
Aaron Simpson (12-4, 0-0 WSOF) vs. Josh Burkman (24-9, 1-0 WSOF)
The Matchup: Despite a solid 7-4 record with the UFC, Simpson was not offered a contract by the promotion following his loss to Mike Pierce in July. “The A-Train” instead inked a four-fight deal with the WSOF and will square off with fellow Octagon veteran Burkman in his debut.
Burkman has won six of seven bouts since his last Octagon appearance in 2008. “The Ultimate Fighter” Season 2 alumnus claims he has rededicated himself to the sport, and the approach seems to be paying dividends. “The People’s Warrior” used superior striking and a couple well-placed takedowns to top Gerald Harris at WSOF 1. Burkman had some success fighting on the outside against Harris and attacking with kicks to the legs and body. He will need to employ a similar approach against Simpson, an All-American wrestler at Arizona State University.
Simpson has solid power in his right hand, which he demonstrated in wobbling the durable Pierce in the opening frame of their UFC on Fuel TV 4 matchup, but, overall, his standup is still mostly a means to close the distance. The Power MMA Team representative is effective in close quarters with dirty boxing, and is comfortable controlling the action in the clinch. Simpson’s wrestling is versatile: he can get an opponent to the canvas with trips, single- and double-legs and slams.
Burkman tends to favor a grinding style, as well, but he will struggle to dictate the tempo of the fight against a wrestler as decorated as Simpson. Instead, the Team Quest representative must use his kicks judiciously to slow Simpson’s shot and throw punches in combination to keep the Arizonan off balance. Trying to match Simpson’s strength is a losing proposition.
The Pick: Simpson will not finish Burkman, but by imposing his will in tie-ups and through a heavy top game, he takes a decision.
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