Sept. 17, 2012
TEMPE -- A mainstay in the Arizona State University wrestling program, former Sun Devil wrestler Aaron Simpson will return to the bench this season as a volunteer assistant coach, head coach Shawn Charles has announced today.
Simpson returns to the program for his second stint in a coaching role. Prior to this, Simpson spent nine years as an assistant coach after his wrestling career at ASU. During that time, he played a vital role in helping several Sun Devils complete successful ASU careers, including All-Americans C.B. Dollaway (184), Ryan Bader (197) and heavyweight Cain Velasquez.
Simpson broke away from coaching full-time in order to pursue a mixed martial arts career where he has compiled an impressive 12-3 record overall and is 7-3 on the UFC Slate. Most recently, Simpson defeated Kenny Robinson by unanimous decision in his welterweight debut and is next slated to take on Mike Pierce on Oct. 5.
In addition to his work on the UFC slate, Simpson co-founded Power MMA and Fitness with Dollaway and Bader in 2010, a state of the art mixed martial arts facility and fitness gym in Gilbert, Ariz.
During his tenure as a Sun Devil coach, Simpson has mentored six different grapplers to All-America honors, including Velasquez (fourth), Dollaway (fifth) and Bader (seventh). All told, those six wrestlers combined to collect a total of 10 All-America awards with the late Steve Blackford (three), Bader (two) and Velasquez (two) earning multiple honors while Dollaway, Curtis Owen and Kellan Fluckiger garnering single awards.
On the conference level, Simpson has guided six athletes to 12 Pac-10 Championship crowns, most recently helping two Sun Devils win the league title as Bader (197) collected the third title of his career and Velasquez ended his campaign with his second win in a row. On a staff that has guided the Sun Devils to four Pac-10 titles, Simpson also helped two wrestlers earn Pac-10 Wrestler of the Year honors with Blackford (2000) and Velasquez (2005) bringing home the award.
A two-time All-American with the Sun Devils, Simpson placed fourth at the 1998 NCAA meet and eighth in 1996, both at 177 pounds. During his Sun Devil career, he collected 110 career wins for 12th on the ASU all-time chart. Simpson also ranks eighth in career dual victories with 53.
Simpson concluded his ASU career with a stellar senior season in 1997-98, posting a 34-4 slate that included a perfect 20-0 dual mark. He also was ranked second in the nation for the much of the year. He claimed his second Pac-10 championship and was named the "Outstanding Wrestler" of the Cliff Keen National Team Duals after going 5-0 in the two-day event. He recorded a team-high 10 falls in 1997-98, with his quickest fall coming in 25 seconds. He also posted a streak of pins in three straight matches and enjoyed a 25-match win streak that lasted 2 1/2 months. Simpson graduated from ASU in May 1998 with a bachelor's degree in broadcasting. Demonstrating discipline in the classroom as well, he earned Pac-10 All-Academic honors three times (1996, 1997, 1998). He was also named the recipient of the Varsity "A" Association Bill Kajikawa Outstanding Male Senior Award.
A walk-on who went on to earn a scholarship, he was a Maroon and Gold Scholar-Athlete and a member of the Athletic Director's High Honor Roll.
A native of Wellton, Ariz., Simpson is a 1993 graduate of Antelope Union High School where he was a four-time state champion and three-time All-American. He closed out his prep career with a 142-1 record.
The 1997 Pan-American Games silver medalist at 187 pounds, Simpson also pursued a freestyle career with the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club and competed in both the 2000 and 2004 Olympic Team Trials. A former USA National Team member, Simpson was a member of the inaugural season of Real Pro Wrestling (RPW) and competed for the Texas Shooters with former Sun Devils Danny Felix, Eric Larkin and Fluckiger. The 2006 calendar year saw Simpson utilize his broadcasting degree as he wrote weekly journals for thesundevils.com and also served as the host of the nationally televised replays of the first season of RPW, introducing the bouts to the viewers at home.
Simpson and his wife, Kendra Sirignano, were married in November 2002 and reside in the Phoenix area with their two daughters, Claire and Mia and son, Domenico.