Even Before He Hit His Teens, Tom Aspinall Was Watching Andrei Arlovski Fight

It’s easy enough to tell that British heavyweight Tom Aspinall is excited for the opportunity ahead of him at UFC Vegas 19 this weekend.

Of course, it helps that he’ll spell it out for you. “It’s exciting,” Apinall (9-2) said of his main card match-up with former UFC heavyweight champ Andrei Arlovski. “I’ve been watching Arlovski for a long time, so it’s pretty much a dream fight for me.”

Speaking to Cageside Press during the UFC Vegas 19 virtual media day earlier this week, Aspinall was asked about being in his teens back when Arlovski was champ. In fact, technically it was even younger. “Something like that. I think even before then to be honest. I don’t know exactly, when I was really young, he was champion.”

Aspinall remembers “The Pitbull” knocking out Paul Buentello in particular, with a short right hand. The victorious Arlovski stood over his fallen foe, not yet aware Buentello was fully out. At the time, Aspinall, now 27, would have been twelve years old (as an aside, date calculators are a wonderful thing).

It was Arlovski’s second title defense, and thirteenth pro bout. His next fight, the following April, came just days after Aspinall’s 13th birthday.

Another Arlovski memory stands out. “I liked the Travis Browne fight as well. I really enjoyed that fight too.” That one, in May of 2015, is a fair bit more recent.

Aspinall, of course, has his own memories to make. He’s off to a good start in his career, riding a five-fight win streak, with finishes in both of his first two UFC bouts. Despite the strong start, however, Aspinall wasn’t expecting a big name for his third outing.

“I wasn’t really expecting anything. To be honest, I was planning on taking it quite slow,” he told Cageside Press. “But when you get offered someone like Arlovski, who I’ve been watching for so long, I just can’t really say no to stuff like that. I wasn’t really thinking about it too much, but when I got offered it, I said yes straight away.”

While Aspinall might have watched Arlovski coming up, any sort of fandom will go out the window, at least temporarily, come Saturday night.

“I respect what he’s done and who he is and everything, but when the bell rings and we start, he’s just going to get treated like anybody else,” said Aspinall. “The respect goes out the window, and he’s going to be treated like another opponent.”

Arlovski vs. Aspinall is one of four heavyweight bouts on the UFC Vegas 19 card this weekend. All part of a February with three events headlined by the big men, leading up, finally, to the Miocic vs. Ngannou 2 title bout next month.

“I think it’s a great time for the heavyweights,” Aspinall said, noting that much of the time, heavyweight isn’t as active as the other divisions. “For everyone to be active around the same time, it’s good.”

Watch the full UFC Vegas 19 virtual media day scrum with Tom Aspinall above! The event takes place Saturday, February 20 at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas, NV.