Two talented UFC veterans battled last night (March 23, 2013) with a potential headlining bout against Jon Fitch on the line as Josh Burkman took on Aaron Simpson on the World Series of Fighting II main card in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Burkman has looked stellar in the past few years since taking a year off and allowing his body to naturally recover from some nagging injuries and he never looked better than he did last night on the main card against the "A-Train."
"The People's Warrior" had some sharp striking attacks early on, bloodying up Simpson's mouth and despite being a bit smaller overall, he had no issue fending off the former All-American wrestler's takedown attempts along the fence.
Utilizing some excellent leverage and underhooks, Burkman was able to remain upright and really start to punish Simpson every time he tried to take the fight to the ground, clipping him with a right hand on the exit which would lead to the finish.
With Simpson a bit befuddled and backing up, Burkman took the initiative, pressing forward with a solid flurry of accurate blows, scoring with several shots and stunning the Power MMA standout. After a right hand connected, Simpson hunched over as if to try and change levels for a takedown but instead he was brutalized by a vicious knee from Burkman which immediately ended the bout.
For Aaron Simpson, he was never really able to get any good offense in. His takedown attempts along the fence were far from successful and he probably would have been better off trying to set up a big double leg from the cage center where he could use his explosiveness and athleticism to put Burkman on his back. Instead, he got mired in the clinch along the fence and couldn't gain a major advantage. On the feet, he's got some power, but his technique still has a long way to go and Burkman punished him with some accurate blows before finishing the fight. This is now Simpson's second straight loss via form of knockout.
If Simpson wants to continue competing, a bout against fellow UFC veteran Gerald Harris would make sense.
For Josh Burkman, this was perhaps the best he's ever looked in his lengthy MMA career. His striking was on point, his takedown defense was phenomenal and he showcased some real zip in his punches. He looked like a completely different fighter than the man who closed his UFC career with a whimper and he might actually have a chance against Fitch in a rematch. As long as he can continue to improve, we might see him back in the big show sooner rather than later.
Burkman is supposed to face Fitch next, but his post-fight speech left a few more questions than answers. Perhaps if a title is on the line, it will add enough incentive for him to take to bout.