Tom Aspinall looks to become the second active UFC champion hailing from the UK, as he takes on Sergei Pavlovich for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 295.
The fight came under unfortunate circumstances for the man from Wigan, as he was only given just over two weeks notice after Jon Jones‘ injury resulted in his fight with Stipe Miocic being scrapped. Opponent Pavlovich was already slated as a backup for the fight.
The 30-year-old’s fight will begin a monumental few months for UK MMA, as just over a month later, Leon Edwards will defend his welterweight title against Colby Covington, at UFC 296.
Earlier today, the UFC posted a video of many famous faces wishing Aspinall luck for his upcoming title fight. At the UFC 295 press conference, Aspinall spoke about how he got ’emotional’ seeing the video.
“It was amazing. People like GSP (Georges St-Pierre), people like Gordon Ramsey absolute UK legend, yeah it was nice, it made me a little bit emotional to be honest, I really enjoyed it.”
Since his devastating knee injury in July 2022, Aspinall has only fought once. That was back in July of this year, almost a year to the day of his injury. The fleet-footed heavyweight knocked Marcin Tybura out in the first round, marking his comeback in impressive fashion.
Aspinall spoke about the injury and everything he was able to learn about himself during those dark times.
“I learnt a lot about myself, I learned that big guys need to train with big guys which is very important. I feel so much better mentally and physically through training with other heavyweights every single day.
“I just wanted to focus everything on becoming the UFC heavyweight champion of the world. Before I was half in and half out, since the injury I had a lot of time to think, I had a lot of time to realise what I need to put my focus on and what I need in my life, both inside and outside the gym, it was a blessing in disguise. I’m completely different now.”
Pavlovich and Aspinall come in the top two for least time spent in the Octagon during their UFC tenures, combining for 12 wins by finish. Aspinall admitted that fear is ‘something I have a good relationship with’.
“He’s definitely an intimidating guy, but that being said, I do my best work when I’m scared. Fear is something I have a really good relationship with and it gives me a superpower so generally speaking the more scared I am the better I do in the fight.”