The first televised fight of UFC 123 will be a match between friends as world class wrestlers Aaron “A-Train” Simpson and Mark “The Filipino Wrecking Machine” Munoz go toe to toe in the octagon. This fight will be available for free to all fans on SpikeTV starting at 9pm. Both Simpson and Munoz got their start as wrestlers. Munoz was a national champion at Oklahoma State while Simpson was an All-American at Arizona State University.
While both men may be wrestlers, they actually present different fighting styles. Simpson (7-1) has devastating knockout power and is more known for standing and exchanging on the feet. Munoz (8-2), on the other hand, has some of the best ground and pound in all of MMA, having absolutely destroyed both Ryan Jensen and Kendall Grove once he had them on the mat.
Both fighters are coming off recent losses. Munoz was thwarted by Yushin Okami at UFC Live on Versus 2 back in August and Simpson was TKO’d by Chris Leben in the second round of the season 11 Ultimate Fighter finale in June. Munoz was unable to use his wrestling to take Okami down and once he was forced to stand and trade, he was exposed. Simpson’s problem was his inability to finish Chris Leben early, and once he became tired and unable to take his opponent down, the more talented striker Leben teed off on him for the knockout.
Munoz has shown rather poor standup defense in many of his fights, and Aaron Simpson might have the most power of any fighter he’s faced yet. If Simpson can keep it standing and land a big hook, it will be lights out for Munoz.
Simpson has had slight conditioning problems in recent fights, he could have very well lost his second to most recent match to Tom Lawlor, which was an absolute brawl and he definitely gassed against Leben. If Munoz can outlast Simpson and get him to the ground in the 2nd and 3rd rounds, the fight is his.
This is a very tough fight to pick, but I’ll go with my gut and say Simpson clips Munoz early.
Prediction: Aaron Simpson via knockout in the 1st round