by Aaron Simpson for MMAWeekly.com

I began my training for this fight (vs. Tom Lawlor on Jan. 11) the day after my Aug. 29 fight in Portland, Ore. I woke up and went for a run along the Willamette River. I have not allowed myself much “time off.” I tried to do something active every day, just not with the intensity of a hard core training camp. I spent the months of September and October helping Ryan Bader prepare for his fight against Eric Schafer, so I never really got out of shape, which is exactly where I wanted to be. 

Now it’s November, I am a couple days into training camp and have really picked up the training. Two-a-days are now filled with running, strength training, grappling, wrestling and striking. I love these eight weeks. The body starts breaking down and rebuilding and toughening up. I go to bed sore and wake up even more sore! I get my mind right for the days training and go to work. This is my job… this is my life. 

When I start feeling like I need a break or want to miss a work out, I think about the role models in my life who have taught me and are still teaching me about work ethic. 

I think about my grandpas, who were both miners in the Rocky Mountains. Day in and day out they geared up and went underground, doing some of the toughest work known to man. 

I think about my mom, after 40 some years of raising my brother and I, deciding to go back to school and get her teaching degree and master’s degree. I remember all her struggles with algebra (not the strongest subject for myself or her). Yet, she buckled down and became a great teacher… she just retired this past year from teaching! What a great inspiration for me. 

I think about my dad. He grew up rough and didn’t have much of anything. He put himself through school, did his time in the Navy during Vietnam, came back and received his master’s degree and he too got a job in education. He was, in my opinion, one of the greatest wrestling coaches that I have ever been coached by. He coached his Nebraska High School wrestling teams to a state championship, but most importantly helped change the lives of every wrestler who had the guts to be on his teams. Most recently, my dad, being a lifelong power lifter, bench pressed at a drug-free bench meet, 390 pounds! He just turned 63 years old! That right there tells me that age means absolutely nothing. 

I think about my father-in-law, working everyday of his life, 100 hours a week, with no complaints at the family restaurant in Goodrich, Mich., since he was a little boy. I remember first meeting him and he looked like he hadn’t slept in years, yet he never let himself take a break and never made an excuse. Quite possibly one of the hardest workers I know. 

I think about my mother-in-law. At 52 years old, she did one of the most unselfish acts that anyone could do for someone. She, without question, decided to be our surrogate for our twin babies and carried them for 37 weeks to birth! Several months after giving birth, she ran a 10-mile race in Michigan! Unbelievable! She gave us two of the most precious babies in the world and we owe our lives to her! 

Finally, I think about my wife. She came to Arizona fresh out of high school. She always wanted to leave the cold of Michigan and attend Arizona State University. Her parents dropped her off at college and she went to work. Because her dad had worked so hard and continued to work to pay for her college, she had decided that she had better get it done as fast as possible. She got through a tough psychology program in three and a half years and graduated with honors. She then worked for a semester before going back and earning her master’s degree in Social Work. She always wanted to help people. Never once did she change her mind. She took a job south of Phoenix in Casa Grande, Ariz., drove and hour each way every day for three years, and worked with some of the worst poverty-stricken families that you could ever imagine. It was rough, but she felt that her life was easy compared to the families and kids she worked with. Along the way, she met this eight-year-old little girl at a children’s shelter. She fell in love with this little girl and remained in her life for the next four years of foster care and group homes. Finally, she asked me if I thought that we could become this little girl’s foster parents and eventually adopt. I said of course and we began the process of getting her in our home. 

Before we knew it, we had a 12-year-old little girl in our house and were well on our way to adopting her. She is now 16 years of age and is a junior at a local high school. She herself has also had many great role models for success and hard work… we hope that someday she can make a life for herself. 

All in all, I have no excuses for laziness. I have a lot to live up to and have a lot of people that I want to make proud. Not proud because my job is beating people up or because I have the potential to make a good amount of money, proud because I am a hard worker like those before me. 

– Aaron Simpson, www.simpsonmma.com  

(Keep an eye out, Aaron Simpson will soon start a weekly video blog leading up to his fight with Tom Lawlor, exclusively on MMAWeekly.com)