Coming off loss, Simpson picking up new tools to beat Munoz

DETROIT -- At UFC 123, Aaron Simpson will have a unique experience when facing Mark Munoz on the Spike televised undercard. The 36-year-old fighter will be coming off of a loss for the first time in his MMA career.

He was TKOed by Chris Leben at "The Ultimate Fighter" Season 11 finale in June, and Simpson was forced to take a look at the way he fights.

"I looked at fight strategies more than anything, and evaluated that fight and worked to pick up some more tools," Simpson told Cagewriter. "I hopefully have some things to surprise Munoz with. It's good having two wrestlers with pretty big backgrounds in the sport going after it trying to beat each other up."

In addition to working with UFC standouts Ryan Bader and C.B. Dollaway at their newly opened gym, Simpson headed north to San Jose to get in work at the American Kickboxing Academy, home of UFC heavyweight champ Cain Velasquez and welterweight contender Josh Koscheck.

"It's nice to go out there and spar with them and see how they do things. We worked hard. Every day I was there was a good experience."

Simpson was a two-time All-American wrestler at Arizona State and coached for 10 years, first at Arizona State, then at Cal Tech. Along the way, he befriended Munoz, a national champ at Oklahoma State and then a coach at OSU and UC-Davis. Now, he has to fight his friend.

"We talked to each other and had to accept it and move forward. It's a little bummer because there are enough guys in the weight class that you could fight, especially this early in our careers. But the fans are going to get a treat."

Since both fighters are such strong wrestlers, Simpson expects that their wrestling skills will cancel each other out and that fans will see a slugfest. He balked at the idea that a wrestling-filled fight is boring.

"You can't just label wrestlers as anything, because there are some very exciting wrestlers out there that are fighting and knocking people out. Look at what C.B. [Dollaway] has done. Look at what Bader's done. They're going out there and finishing fights. Sometimes styles clash and it gets a little boring, but for the most part I think it's a little B.S."