Tom Aspinall delivered the best performance of his career at UFC 295, scoring a stunning first-round knockout of Sergei Pavlovich to claim the interim heavyweight title on just two weeks’ notice.
His victory was a cause for celebration, but Aspinall’s elation quickly turned to frustration. Typically, an interim title win guarantees a fighter their shot at the reigning undisputed champion upon their return to competition. However, that won’t be the case for Aspinall. Instead, the UFC will move forward with their originally scheduled plans for a heavyweight superfight between current divisional king Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic. The winner of that bout would then fight Aspinall to unify the two crowns.
With Jon Jones currently recovering from a pectoral tear, that could leave Aspinall on the shelf for a year, if not longer. Not exactly the news a guy who just spent a year laid up with a knee injury wants to hear.
Aspinall Looks to Stay Active while the UFC Holds up the heavyweight division
Tom Aspinall is now looking for opportunities outside of the Octagon until the top of the heavyweight division is properly sorted. Asked about a potential turn in the boxing ring during a recent interview, the UK-based fan favorite revealed that he was quite interested in the idea, noting that staying active was the most important thing right now.
“Let’s do it,” Aspinall responded when asked about a potential boxing match (via Josh Evanoff). “I want to be active in MMA, I’m healthy. Absolutely I’ll do that, if I can get that past the UFC, I’ll do that. That’s why I think it’s a good idea, I like it, I like it a lot. I’ll do that.”
He continued, “I’ll do that, if they want me to do that, I’ll do it. But I want to be active. I had a year off with the knee injury and stuff. I’ve come back, if I do say so myself, I’ve looked pretty good in my two since then. I’m in a really good spot right now, let’s keep it moving.”
“I don’t want to be waiting around for Jon Jones. Who knows if he’s going to come back or not?… I’ll fight another contender, or we’ll do one of them. That’s a great idea” (h/t MMA Mania).
The UFC isn’t very keen on allowing their fighters to pursue opportunities outside of the Octagon, particularly ones that put their cash cows in danger. Just ask Francis Ngannou. Though it’s certainly not unheard of. In 2017, the UFC famously co-promoted a boxing match between Conor McGregor and legendary pugilist Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather.
With the right opponent and enough money at stake, it wouldn’t be completely crazy to think the UFC would allow Aspinall to test out his skills in a pair of 10-ounce gloves.