The fourth bout of the UFC on Fuel TV debut broadcast sees Aaron Simpson welcoming Ronny Markes to the middleweight division after the Brazilian was victorious in his debut with the UFC at light heavyweight.
A former Division-I wrestler at Arizona State University, Simpson is a member of the Power MMA Team, alongside fellow ASU wrestling alum C.B. Dolloway and Ryan Bader. A former WEC middleweight, Simpson is one of the rare upper weight class fighters still hanging around from the blue cage days.
Simpson entered the UFC at 5-0, and quickly strung together three straight wins on the big stage. Simpson appeared on the verge of cracking the top of the division as he easily won the first round of his fourth UFC fight against Chris Leben before tiring in the second and losing by TKO. In his next fight Simpson dropped a unanimous decision to Mark Munoz and suddenly found himself fighting for his UFC job. With his back against the wall Simpson has rebounded with three straight victories and is now in position to again make a run for the top of the division.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Simpson was a two-time All-American at Arizona State, and as such is a very talented wrestler who has adapted those skills for use inside the Octagon. As with Miocic in the bout before this, Simpson uses his wrestling primarily as a defensive tool. While Simpson isn’t a pure boxer, he is more than capable of landing more than he is hit on the feet, and has power in his fists, having earned six of his victories by way of knock out. Simpson also showed in his victory over Brad Tavares that he will not hesitate to switch to a grinding style if he feels his opponent poses a threat on the feet.
Neither fighter has odds prohibitively high, or chances prohibitively low, to discourage placing some fantasy coin down on them if you favor them to win. For Simpson on a straight-picking front, the American will most likely be hoping to stay at range and throw bombs until he puts Markes away, so take a second round TKO victory.
Ronny Markes analysis after the jump.
Although the Nova Uniao camp is most well known for its smaller fighters, including Featherweight champion Jose Aldo and Bantamweight contender Renen Barao, it is not without its large prospects. Markes has been defeated just once in his professional career and will look to keep his current winning streak going against Simpson.
Markes suffered the first defeat of his career in his eighth career fight, succumbing to an armbar by Paulo Rodrigues. Markes bounced back using his fists to finish three straight opponents, with two TKOs and a submission to strikes, earning the chance to fight former world #1 Paulo Filho. After defeating Filho by unanimous decision, Markes was called on to replace an injured Stephan Bonnar against Karlos Vemola. Markes used takedowns and the threat of submissions to earn a shutout unanimous decision victory.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Markes does his best work when fighting at close quarters, where the strong fighter is able to boss his opponents around to find his way into dominant positions and hammer away on his opponents, sapping their strength as he goes. Against an accomplished wrestler like Simpson, this may prove difficult sledding, however if Markes is able to impose his will upon Simpson, and keep out of a middle-of-the-cage slugfest, he should be effective working on top of the wrestler.
Markes is the slight dog on Playground at +110, and similar to his opponent is an acceptable bet both straight up or in a parlay. For fight selection, the uglier this fight is the more likely it is that Markes is the one who finds his hand raised at the end, so pick the unanimous decision victory for the Brazilian.