Tom Aspinall feels like a new man.
A big part of that is due to the fact that Aspinall feels great while training. Even before the knee injury that knocked him out of his main event against Curtis Blaydes, Aspinall said he had troubles with that leg on occasion. However, the 29-year-old kept winning in impressive fashion, and the bigger opportunities kept coming to him, so he kept managing best he could and found himself in the Top 5 of the division. Now, he is moving on both his legs comfortably, but Aspinall has also taken this time away from the Octagon to sharpen his physique as well as his body – something he is particularly proud of when we hop on the phone to catch up on the last few months.
“I'm jacked up,” Aspinall told UFC.com. “Jacked Up Tommy is coming in in 2023.”
Braggadocious proclamations aside, Aspinall’s rehabilitation process seems to be coming along well. Since returning to light MMA training in September, Aspinall said he is incorporating more full-speed, full-contact work progressively, including “seven or eight” sparring sessions.
Although he feels “pretty confident” during sparring, he acknowledges the kind of work he has been doing and the work he’d need to do for a proper training camp are two different levels of intensity. He maintains his intentions to not rush back, especially until he feels sure about his repaired knee’s ability to take the damage sure to come in a fight. Still, though, good signs seem abundant in the Aspinall camp.
RELATED: Tom Aspinall On Injury Rehab And Timetable For His Return
“I feel like me and my coaches did a really good job of just listening to (the knee) really because I never wanted to rush to get back or anything like that,” he said. “We’re still not rushing, but I think we just really took it step by step because it’s not like one day I wasn't kicking, and then the next day I was full sparring with kicks. It was like, we build our kicks back a little bit for a few minutes after every session, and then we just put it all that way until we could full-on spar with kicks to the knee and all that stuff. It's been a slow process, and it still is a slow process, but I think we doing really well with it.”
He plans to attend UFC 286: Edwards vs Usman 3 in London, where he headlined both UFC events in the promotion’s long-awaited return to England, and where he is sure to get a big reception from the fans in the O2 Arena.
As far as booking a fight anytime soon, Aspinall said he’ll cross that bridge when he comes to it. In the meantime, he isn’t particularly worried about holding his spot in the division or anything like that. He is excited about the new face and new champion at the top of the heavyweight table, however.
Photo Gallery | Tom Aspinall Begins Injury Rehab In England
“I think (Jon Jones) is amazing for the division,” Aspinall said. “I think it's amazing for the promotion. I think it's amazing for everybody. He is such a big name and such a superstar to almost everybody else, so I think it's great. He's not a standard heavyweight. He's quite different to everybody else, so it's interesting. Really interesting.”
You wouldn’t be wrong if you thought that sounds like a man already thinking about what it’d be like to face “Bones” in the near future, but the first order of business is getting back into a full camp and stepping back into the Octagon.
The timetable remains vague for England’s top heavyweight, and Aspinall isn’t particularly stressed about it, either.
“I don't know really,” he said. “I'm just basically waiting and seeing what plays out in the division because everyone is pretty much matched at the moment. I’ll just see what I'm offered, really. My body's probably ready to go pretty soon, and I'm just seeing what happens. I'm just going to take my time with it. I (don’t) have my mind set on a day. I'm just chilling.”
But remember: Jacked Up Tommy is coming.