Hurtsbad Exclusive: UFC MW Aaron Simpson Discusses Staph Infection

Todd Jackson@tjaxmmaSenior Analyst IAugust 24, 2010

The struggles of an athlete competing in mixed martial arts are many. The range of trying concerns can include anything from being able to afford reputable training, fighter’s health care, agent representation, the list goes on and on.

As a traditional sport athlete, the pitfalls may be many, but there are more than enough safety nets to support ailing athletes. Such is not the case for athletes that compete in MMA.

If a ball player stubs their toe, there is a long line of professional sports medicine trainers and massage therapists to nurse them back to 100%. It is a very safe and healthy environment. No one wants to suffer, but if they do they know it’s taken care of.

It’s a whole new world for athletes with the talent and desire to become world class mixed martial artists. In a sport that is inherently dangerous, where bumps, bruises, breaks, and cuts are a common occurrence, health care is sadly not a high priority for organizations putting on the show.

That fact is hitting very close to home for the extremely promising middleweight UFC fighter Aaron Simpson. Simpson has suffered an extremely dangerous staph infection that stems from a training injury he sustained preparing for a September UFC Fight Night bout with Dave Branch.

Simpson is in a very trying time in his MMA career and his life at the moment.

He is not where he wants to be, which is training for his next fight. He is forced to undergo a gruelling rehabilitation program to get ready to start training again as soon as possible.

And as mentioned before, Aaron is getting no support from the sport that he has chosen to make his career. There is no on-site trainer. The only help he gets is produced by his own efforts. The treatment for his ailment is not even close to affordable, especially for a family man with mouths to feed.

Simpson was kind enough to spend a moment with to discuss how he found himself in this situation, how he is coping with it, and what he is looking forward to once he conquers this difficult test in his life and career.

Simpson was in good spirits but obviously already fed up with the situation.

“I’m just ready to get done with it. I've got a pick line, it’s an IV that is on every day, that's getting old. Not to mention its really expensive for not having insurance. It’s costing me close to $200 per day and I’ve still got a couple more weeks of that.”

Simpson agreed that fighters health care is an issue that doesn't get the attention it deserves amongst those in a position to assist competitors and athletes in this sport.

“Especially when you have a family. That's the really a hard part. At this point this is my career, this is what I'm doing, it’s a full time job in my opinion to train like we do. That's something the UFC isn't covering, they're not taking care of us as far as insurance goes.”

Simpson went on to say, “It’s kind of a hard pill to swallow because you're expected to pay for your own insurance.”

Aaron discussed how the staph took hold in his body and how it progressed from there.

“It was a nose injury that ended up becoming infected. I guess we carry staph in our nose. I originally thought it was a broken nose the way it swelled up. It really was just an infection that wound up spreading through my body.”

Simpson added, “It took hold in my elbow. I’ve had an injured elbow, and it was able to go in there and really do some damage. That’s where they ended up having to cut me, and clean the infection out of my elbow.”

For a man who fights for a living, it was obvious that this ailment is one of Simpson’s most difficult tests.

“To me it’s one of the most painful things I’ve been through. I haven't had a whole lot of surgeries so I’ve been pretty fortunate. The fact that is was just cranking so bad, it was really frustrating.”

Simpson also talked about how it threw his schedule off.

“Now it has set me back a month of training, because of this IV. It has obviously taken me out of the September 16th fight, and that payday against a good opponent. It pushes my fight schedule back to November possibly December. Which when you sit out for a month, it takes a while to get back into shape and get everything clicking.”

The severity of the infection is something Simpson was sure to mention.

“Staph infection is no joke, especially when there can be different kinds of staph. This ended up being one that people know has been going around gyms, which is MRSA. That can be deadly. If you don't catch it soon enough, you can lose a limb or lose your life. Thankfully I caught it soon enough.”

For a man who lives in a gym more often than not, it is trying for Aaron to be reduced to very little activity at all, even if it is for the sake of his own well being.

“I can not do anything with this pic line. It runs through my bicep and sits right above my heart, probably about an inch away. That is so every morning I can receive antibiotic that goes right to my heart and basically goes out through my entire body.”

Simpson added, “That’s the stressing point, I can’t do anything, I can’t sweat or I risk infection, I can’t get my heart rate up or I risk hindering the progression of the drug, it has been the worst. Now I'm stuck every day watching TV, I'm trying do some kind of exercises to keep my muscles moving, but it’s getting old quick.”

Simpson is fortunate to have his family to help him through these troubling times in his career.

“I have two little twin babies, that are two years old, they really put a smile on my face. My wife has been really great, she takes over and helps me through my recovery. She’s actually going through some medical stuff herself, so that's why were having some issues with insurance and everything. We will get through this and have brighter days.”

Speaking of brighter days, Simpson is looking forward to a goal he and a few partners have set for themselves. Simpson, Ryan Bader, and C.B. Dollaway with the help of investors are looking to open a state of the art MMA facility in Gilbert AZ, called Power MMA and Fitness.

Simpson has had quite a run in the UFC at middleweight. When asked about fighters like Anderson Silva, Nate Marquardt, and Chael Sonnen mixed with his goals in the division, he is going for the gold.

“I’m a little older now. I have a lot of experience in one on one competition. I do set my sights high. I feel like I can be one of the best in this sport at this weight division. I feel like I can beat any of those guys.”

He also was sure to add, “Of course you take it one fight at a time and take what Joe Silva gives us, but I think I can beat any of those guys. With the training camp that I have and the support staff that I have, and my training partners, it’s definitely possible.”

When he returns to the mats, and eventually the cage, Simpson wants to forge his legacy against the top of the food chain. He understands it takes time, but his heart is set on facing the best.

“I want to fight the best guys, whether that's getting up and fighting Marquardt or Chael. I don't think they will give me those fights right off the bat, you've got to earn it and get back in and get the wins.”

Judging by Simpson’s performance thus far, it is only a matter of healing today, and time tomorrow before he finds what he is looking for. His combination of world class wrestling, and lethal striking make him a formidable foe for anyone who makes their home at MW in the UFC.

On behalf of all the staff at, we wish Mr. Aaron Simpson a speedy recovery from his bout with staph, and thank him for his time during this trying stretch of his MMA career.

Chin up Aaron. We look forward to seeing you back in action before you know it.


This article originally featured at


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