There are two UFCs. One UFC is the organization that we all know, the promotion that the vast majority of UFC fighters compete in. It’s the promotion that houses dominant champions such as Georges St. Pierre and Anderson Silva. Then, there’s another UFC. It’s an organization that holds fights on the same fight cards as the regular UFCs, but it doesn’t really feature the same caliber of fighter. In this UFC, the participants are going at it for the opportunity to compete in the real UFC.
Brad Tavares has just earned his way to the real UFC. He did it with wins against very low-level opponents by UFC standards in Seth Baczynski and Phil Baroni. His reward is a fight against tough wrestler Aaron Simpson, who bounced back from losses to Chris Leben and Mark Munoz to win a lopsided decision against Mario Miranda at UFC Fight Night 24 in March. Simpson has never looked particularly bad in a fight; in his losses to Leben and Munoz, according to Fight Metric, he landed 43 significant strikes each time.
So Tavares has a tough test on his hands. The simple question is: is Tavares ready for that test? That won’t be answered until the fight takes place, but there’s some evidence that he’s not. Like I said, his two UFC wins have taken place against low-level UFC opponents in Seth Baczynski and Phil Baroni. Tavares was able to stop Baroni in the first round at UFC 125, but not before being hit hard and put in danger by Baroni in the fight. Meanwhile, his TUF 11 Finale fight against Seth Baczynski was a close affair in which Tavares won a decision largely for being able to land takedowns and maintain top control. Not to mention that Tavares struggled against Baczynski and really struggled against Court McGee on The Ultimate Fighter. There’s just not much out there that suggests that Tavares is on Simpson’s level.
In fact, Simpson has four wins that seem to be better than any of Tavares’s wins: Mario Miranda, Tom Lawlor (a split decision), Ed Herman, and Tim McKenzie. On paper, the only thing Tavares has going for him is age. At 23 years old, Tavares should be in or near his athletic prime, whereas Simpson is 36 years old. So it’s possible that Tavares can get by on pure athleticism.
SILVA PREDICTION: AARON SIMPSON (28.41) OVER BRAD TAVARES (20.80)
But I doubt it. It’s much more likely that Simpson will be able to land takedowns on Tavares, ground and pound, and win the fight by TKO or decision. Tavares will really need to use his athleticism to fend Simpson off while using his striking to out-point Simpson, or maybe win by TKO himself. Either way, the onus is on Tavares to defend the attack of Simpson, and as he was barely able to defend the attacks of lower-level fighters in Baczynski and Baroni, I think Simpson will end up with his hand raised after this fight.