Aspinall Charts New Course in Heavyweight Race

Interim UFC heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall appears to have given up on wanting to fight Jon Jones, wanting to build a name for himself in the UFC first

by Sededin Dedovic
Aspinall Charts New Course in Heavyweight Race
© Sarah Stier / Getty Images

Following his spectacular knockout of Sergey Pavlovich in March 2024, Tom Aspinall emerged as one of the UFC's most impressive heavyweight fighters. His ambition to face champion Jon Jones was genuine and loud. However, instead of getting his wish, the UFC decided on a fight between Jones and Stipe Miocic.

For a long time, Aspinall tried and asked for a fight with Jones, later also with Miocic, but it seems that this does not coincide with the ideas of Dana White and the UFC management. This failure did not demotivate Aspinall, but prompted him to change his strategy.

In a recent guest appearance on Michael Bisping's "Believe You Me" podcast, Aspinall revealed his new plans and changed approach to the situation. He understands that he is relatively new compared to Miocic or Jones and that a lot of effort is still needed.

Aspinall has shifted his focus and wants to create his own legacy. "I realized that for me it's much more important to build my legacy than to chase the fight against the champion," Aspinall said. "I'm not going to wait endlessly anymore.

Just look at what's happening to Michael Chandler." Aspinall pointed out that he does not want to find himself in a similar situation, where a fighter is waiting for a "dream" that may never come true. His ambition is now focused on continuous improvement and proving his worth, with the goal of establishing himself as one of the best fighters in history.

“Let's face it, I love Chandler. I have nothing against him, but simply he is always on the sidelines waiting for something that will not happen. I want to continue walking my way, and if I want to be one of the best ever, I have to prove it." After defeating Jailton Almeida, Aspinall was challenged by Curtis "Razor" Blaydes.

The Englishman accepted the challenge without hesitation, announcing the fight on social networks. The two already met in 2022, when Aspinall suffered a knee injury in the first round and was forced to surrender. That fight resulted in a TKO for Blaydes, leaving Aspinall with an "unsettled score" he wants to settle.

On the social network X Aspinall said “Don't ask me twice. I'm in favor".

Tom Aspinall of England knocks out Sergei Pavlovich of Russia in the interim UFC heavyweight championship fight during the UFC 2© Sarah Stier / Getty Images

Taking control and leaving a mark

Aspinall is firmly determined in his intentions.

He plans to continue his journey to the top of the heavyweight division without relying on a fight with the reigning champion. Right now, he will put all his focus on the rematch with Blaydes, and when he wins, it will definitely be another step closer to the fight for the title.

Aspinall himself said that he received a lot of advice that he needed to change his strategy, and now he says that maturity and willingness to take control of his career is the goal he is aiming for. His vision is to leave a deep mark in the world of MMA not only through spectacular victories, but also through a strategic and thoughtful approach to building a career.

However, this will require a lot of effort and victories. Yesterday, the interim UFC heavyweight champion caused a storm on social media after taking on champion Jon Jones at a sponsored event in Birmingham. The two had a friendly chat, but the atmosphere turned tense when Jones brushed Aspinall's arm off his shoulder.

In an interview with JN Media UK, Aspinall explained that the intention was innocent: "I think he took the hand on the shoulder as a lack of respect. But I didn't come with that intention. I just wanted to meet him and express my interest in fighting for the belt.

I don't have nothing against him, and he was angry." Aspinall has long been vocal in demanding a unification fight with Jones. However, the UFC has expressed its desire for Jones and Stipe Miocic to square off as soon as Jones recovers from a shoulder injury sustained two weeks before his scheduled bout with Miocic at UFC 295.

This injury led to the fight being canceled and left Aspinall without a clear opponent. Aspinall is realistic about the chances of this fight with Jones ever happening: "I don't think he's going to fight me anyway. I'd be very surprised if we ever fight.

Neither Jones nor the UFC is interested. I'm trying to get the fight, but in at the same time, I don't get carried away. I wanted to have fun and see Jones' reaction. I don't feel disappointed because I knew that fight was unlikely." In addition to Aspinall, other heavyweight fighters are also expressing interest in a match with Jones.

Jairzinho Rozenstruik, Curtis Blaydes and Cyril Gane are just some of the names mentioned in the context of potential opponents. Who will end up being Jones' next opponent remains to be seen. Aspinall certainly put his name on the map and attracted the attention of the audience with his performances and charisma.

Jon Jones