It wasn't a fan-friendly strategy, but Aaron Simpson grinded out Brad Tavares along the fence for a majority of their three-round encounter on Saturday night at UFC 132 -- winning the bout on the scorecards (30-27, 30-27, 30-27).
Simpson pressed the action to the fence quickly in the first round, stalling along the fence as he battered Tavares' legs with knees. Tavares was able to catch Simpson briefly after referee Josh Rosenthal separated the two midway through the round. Unfortunately, he couldn't follow up, and Simpson worked his way back into the clinch, utilizing the same strategy he did in the early moments of the fight.
Tavares landed a few solid blows to open the second, stumbling Simpson briefly. Simpson responded by shooting at Tavares' base and pressing him into the fence, a repeat of what occurred in the first round of action. Tavares reversed his position along the fence, eventually cinching up a double leg and slamming Simpson to the ground. Simpson immediately popped to his feet, crushing Tavares with knees to the head and threatening with a guillotine choke. Tavares escaped unscathed, finishing out the round stuck in Simpson's clutches.
Simpson continued his strategy in the third round, grinding on Tavares along fence. Simpson was able to take Tavares down briefly, but he wasn't able to capitalize on the gained position. Referee Josh Rosenthal separated the fighters with 0:30 second left, and Simpson blasted through Tavares' defenses, taking him down and securing the decision.
Simpson entered tonight's contest following an unanimous decision victory over Mario Miranda at UFC Fight Night 24 in March. He was expected to face Jason 'Mayhem' Miller tonight, but Miller was pulled from the card after the Chael Sonnen debacle in order to fill in as a coach on the fourteenth season of The Ultimate Fighter, opposite Michael Bisping. Simpson was riding a two-fight win streak before the bout with Miranda, losing to good friend Mark Munoz at UFC 123 and succumbing to the punching prowess of Chris Leben at The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale.
Tavares was a contestant on the eleventh season of The Ultimate Fighter, losing to eventual winner Court McGee in the semifinals via rear naked choke. Since the show, he's defeated fellow TUF alum Seth Baczynski and PRIDE, UFC veteran Phil Baroni at The Ultimate Fighter 11 Finale and UFC 125 respectively.