After nearly a year off, former IFL light-heavyweight Aaron Stark returned to fighting with a submission victory over Jared Torgeson in just over a minute this past July, setting his career back on the right path after disappointing back-to-back losses in 2009.
For Stark, not only was winning important, but getting back into the sport gave him the kind of kick he’d been missing during his time off.
“I will say that nothing else in my life has ever kind of mimicked that set of emotions and adrenaline and whatever that special blend is that makes being in the ring or cage special,” he told MMAWeekly.com. “After a while you kind of forget what it feels like, and then you get back in there and it feels good.”
Stark didn’t have to wait as long to get that feeling again, as he returns to Sportfight for the first time in three years against UFC veteran “Super” Mario Miranda Friday night at Mount Hood Community College in Portland, Ore.
Having had an opportunity to scout Miranda from his UFC fights, Stark also gained some insight from teammate Tyson Jefferies when the two trained together recently as part of a camp for another top fighter.
“The truth is, for UFC 135, I went out to Denver and was part of that training camp for ‘Rampage’ (Quinton Jackson) for two months and it was a revolving door of relatively big name UFC fighters and stuff like that, so you get to go with those guys and let you know where you are,” said Stark. “Hopefully some of that experience pays off for me.”
Stark knows that Miranda will be no easy opponent, regardless of preparation.
“He’s tall, so he has range, and I’d be dumb to fight him on the outside,” said Stark. “He’s good on the ground, but at the same time, he’s an all-around ground fighter. Not only is he good on the ground, but he can get you on the ground (unlike some grapplers).
“I have to be wary of that and execute my own wrestling and takedowns. I think we both want to take the other guy down and be on top, so it’s just a matter of who is going to win that battle.”
While a fight against a UFC-level competitor such as Miranda could very well determine the upcoming year for Stark’s career, he’s not letting that get to him as he prepares for Friday night.
“I try not to focus too much on that stuff,” he said. “I know its cliché, but I think it’s true that you need to focus on the fight that’s ahead of you.
“Quite frankly, you can avoid all the mental BS of this guy’s been in the UFC or this guy’s better and all that. The truth is that’s the next guy you’re fighting and that’s who you’ve got to beat. It doesn’t really matter who the guy is. Obviously wins are good for your career, losses are bad, and everything is secondary or tertiary to that.”