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Aaron Simpson: “I’ll step in there, probably take him down and knock him out.”

With a 2-0 record in 2011 it’s safe to say UFC middleweight Aaron Simpson’s stock is back on the rise. However, while his performances may have fans excited about what’s next for the former amateur wrestling star, no individual appreciates his current position more than Simpson himself.

After starting his MMA career off with eight straight wins Simpson dropped back-to-back bouts in 2010 including a knockout loss to Chris Leben. Were his professional struggles not enough, the “A-Train” also apparently had a number of issues in his personal life that, if unchecked, may have even cost him his career.

“I had a staph infection in my elbow (that) was limb threatening — if not life threatening — but I didn’t realize it at the time,” Simpson explained in an interview with the UFC’s website. “I had it cut on and then I had a PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter) line IV that I was on for a couple weeks, and I was on some pretty potent antibiotics. The PICC line ran straight to my heart.”

“I also had a knee surgery and my wife had some health issues, too, so last year was a rough year for me. It took me a while to get out of that funk,” revealed the 37-year old.

However, though he may be one of the division’s elder statesmen, Simpson is not looking to retire any time soon and will keep taking to the cage as long as able to, a plan put into motion this coming Saturday night when he faces submission specialist Eric Schafer at UFC 136.

“I’ll fight as long as my body will let me, as long as I’m hungry for it. At 37 I still wake up in the morning and enjoy what I do. I can train as hard as I did when I was 20 and still have a smile on my face. I get beat up by young guys every day but compete with them and still have a need for it. All in all I feel great and like I can compete with anybody.”

“I bring a skill set that I have been sharpening since I started wrestling at age 4,” the Power MMA representative continued. “Now I get to see where I stand on the biggest stage in MMA. I’m looking forward to stepping in the Octagon and letting my hands fly (though) it is not about just fighting in the UFC — it is about executing my technique and imposing my will and ultimately getting my hand raised one fight at a time. This is just another journey in my life that I am putting everything into. It is a process of discovering what it is that I am made of. It is a chance to test myself.”

It’s an in-ring exam he’s clearly studied for given Schafer’s weapons on the ground yet also one Simpson is certain he’ll pass with flying colors.

“I’ll step in there, probably take him down and knock him out,” he stated. “That’s the plan. But I’ll probably do something crazy. Maybe he’ll take me down and then I’ll throw an Armbar on him and submit him.”

Simpson vs. Schafer will stream live on the Facebook portion of the prelims starting at approximately 6:15 EST. Other bouts at UFC 136 include Jeremy Stephens vs. Anthony Pettis, Chael Sonnen vs. Brian Stann, Frank Edgar vs. Gray Maynard (for the lightweight title), and Jose Aldo vs. Kenny Florian (for the featherweight title).

PHOTO CREDIT – SIMPSONMMA

MMATraining Take: Grappling enthusiasts should definitely tune in to Simpson’s scrap with Schaefer given both fighters’ skill-sets. Also, each man has a warrior’s mentality despite being so good when things hit the floor, so don’t expect a boring “lay and pray” affair. Rather, fans are much more likely to see aggressive technique combined with a few stand-up exchanges to boot.

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