Tom Aspinall can go one step closer to becoming the first British UFC heavyweight champion when he faces Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295 in Maddison Square Garden on November 11th.
With Jon Jones pulling out of his scheduled main event blockbuster with Stipe Miocic, Dana White and the UFC have reacted quickly and efficiently by adding Aspinall and Pavlovich to the card as the co-main event- with the vacant light heavyweight clash between Alex Pereira and Jiri Prochazka moving to the main event.
This fight was rumoured to be in the pipeline anyway, but it has now been confirmed that Aspinall is practically two victories away for becoming the first UFC heavyweight champion to reign from the United Kingdom. A win against Pavlovic will make him the interim champion which will grant him a shot against whoever holds the belt.Embed from Getty Images
Michael Bisping became the first British fighter to win a UFC belt when he sensationally stopped Luke Rockhold back in 2016 while more recently, Leon Edwards shocked the world last year with a last-ditch high kick to KO the then-undefeated Kamara Usman to win the UFC welterweight title.
Aspinall’s trajectory since joining the UFC in 2020 would suggest that he has championship credentials, especially when you look at the manner in which he has dispatched his opponents.
The Salford man has six stoppages in the UFC- four by KO and two by submission- whilst his only loss was a doctor’s stoppage owing to a gruelling knee injury that he picked up against Curtis Blaydes inside the first round just last year.
Aspinall likes to get his business done swiftly too, with him spending on average just 2 minutes and 19 seconds inside the Octagon across his seven fights. His most recent victory over Marcin Tybura at UFC London back in July lasted just under four minutes before the Polish heavyweight was obliterated by a series of strikes from the Brit.
His power is immense, his ground game has improved immensely, and he gets things done fast. Three out of his four takedowns in the UFC have all resulted in stoppages soon after- the focus for Aspinall is to cut the lights out for his opponent as quickly as possible.
But as Aspinall himself told the MacLife, he is now coming up against “the most dangerous guy in the UFC” and says that he has “put himself in the most dangerous position fighting Pavlovich on two weeks’ notice.”Embed from Getty Images
Aspinall is right, Pavlovich is arguably the most feared man in the organisation at present and it’s not because of any flashy statistics, but rather the brutality of his rise through the heavyweight rankings.
Since losing to Alistair Overeem in 2018, the Russian has since left a trail of destruction in his pursuit of heavyweight gold- achieving a first-round KO in six consecutive fights. Some of the names he has dispatched include Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa and Curtis Blaydes- that is some resume.
Pavlovich also spends on average just 2 minutes and 23 seconds inside the Octagon, so the consensus is that when he meets Aspinall in two weeks, somebody is getting knocked out.
This is by far Aspinall’s toughest test to date and should he replicate the performances he has shown up until now then his UFC stock will go through the roof.