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 Tom Aspinall of England reacts after defeating Marcin Tybura of Poland their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Tom Aspinall: ‘This Is A Lifetime Of Work’

British Heavyweight Tom Aspinall Hopes To Validate His Belief That He Is The Best In The World By Winning The Interim Heavyweight Title At UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira

Tom Aspinall expects to feel scared when he gets ready to make the walk to the Octagon on November 11 when he will fight Sergei Pavlovich for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira.

But that fear always feeds Aspinall with the same belief: He is dangerous. That emotional push-pull is routine for the 30-year-old, who is as giddy about fighting in Madison Square Garden as he is to compete for the world title. At the end of the day, Aspinall says, this is just a sport, so he might as well accept and perhaps even enjoy it for what it is.

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“There's only two things that can happen: you can win or lose,” Aspinall told UFC.com. “I just try and don't overcomplicate it. There’s two guys in there having a fight. He can knock me out, I can knock him out. You can submit me. I can submit him. We both got a million ways to win. Let's go and take a chance. Let's roll the dice and see what happens.”

Order UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira

About two weeks out from his first shot at UFC gold, Aspinall is his usual self, which is to say cordially confident and honest. He knows two weeks to get ready for a title fight is less than ideal, but he also stayed in the gym after his first-round TKO win over Marcin Tybura in July. That fight held a little more weight to it, anyway, as it was Aspinall’s first bout since suffering a major knee injury the year before. With that weight off his shoulders, he continued to sharpen his skills while he waited for his next fight to materialize. He also planned to make his first visit to New York City and watch Jon Jones defend his heavyweight title against Stipe Miocic first-hand. 

om Aspinall of England punches Marcin Tybura of Poland in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
om Aspinall of England punches Marcin Tybura of Poland in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Over the course of a couple of phone calls, that hop across the pond turned into a business trip of the most high-stakes order. Aspinall knows he is a little up against it, as well. Pavlovich finished his last six fights inside the first round, and none of the fights were particularly close. He is also UFC’s all-time leader in knockdowns per 15 minutes at 6.31 and is also ranked second all-time in strikes laded per minute (8.72) and fourth in striking differential (+4.39). On the other hand, Aspinall is littered over the record book, as well. In the same categories, Aspinall ranks 5th (2.78), 3rd (7.65) and 2nd (+4.75), respectively.

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Essentially, these two bowled over their competition to date, but Aspinall believes he has every tool in the box to get the job done. Most crucially, in his mind, is his understanding of where people have gone wrong against Pavlovich.

“He is the most dangerous guy in the UFC, in my opinion, to get into a shootout with,” Aspinall said. “To stand flatfooted with him and start trading, and have an ego competition with him, that's what a lot of the guys are doing with him, and that's not what I'm going to do.”

 Tom Aspinall of England kicks Marcin Tybura of Poland in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Tom Aspinall of England kicks Marcin Tybura of Poland in their heavyweight fight during the UFC Fight Night at The O2 Arena on July 22, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

The fleet-of-foot Aspinall is one of the most fluid heavyweights on the roster, and his combination of power, speed and technique is part of the reason why so many are high on him as part of the future of the division.

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Aspinall also feels bolstered from the advice of his friend, mentor and fellow Manchester representative Michael Bisping. England’s first UFC champion and Aspinall regularly talk, and “The Count” has uniquely useful experience from which he can speak. When Bisping defeated Luke Rockhold to win the middleweight title, he did so with about two weeks of notice himself. In fact, Aspinall points out, they each got their phone calls with just about the same amount of time to prepare. 

“He just told me, ‘Listen, don't focus on the two weeks you've been training. This is a lifetime of work going into it,’” Aspinall said. “I've sacrificed so much to be where I am now. It's not been two weeks of work. It's been 15 years of work. Even longer (than that). I've been training with my dad since I was like eight, nine years old. This has been a lifetime of work.”

Tom Aspinall Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Aspinall vs Tybura
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Tom Aspinall Octagon Interview | UFC Fight Night: Aspinall vs Tybura
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A year ago, Aspinall was at home recovering from knee surgery and wondering when he would get to fight again. Family and friends held him up during the earliest days of recovery, and he returned with the same confident fury people came to expect from him.

After he secured his comeback victory, he nearly ripped the microphone out of Bisping’s hands to declare his intentions: he wanted the heavyweight title by any means necessary. 

Through less-than-ideal means, he gets his chance on November 11, but he is already living his dream. He is making a career out of what he loves and providing for his family, as well. The belt is the “cherry on the cake,” one that solidifies his conviction that he is the best in the world. He knows anything can happen in a heavyweight fight. What he expects, however, is a rush of validation that comes with all that hard work and sacrifice coming to fruition in the form of a UFC title.

Order UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira

UFC 295: Procházka vs Pereira took place live from Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 11, 2023. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass