Junior dos Santos sees Tom Aspinall as real champion, calls on UFC to strip Jon Jones of heavyweight belt ‘soon’

Former UFC heavyweight champion Junior dos Santos believes interim titleholder Tom Aspinall should be promoted to undisputed champion “soon.”

Aspinall captured the interim belt with a 69-second knockout of Sergei Pavlovich in November, an interim title created after Jon Jones suffered an injury and was pulled from the UFC 295 card at Madison Square Garden. “Bones” has yet to return to action, and Miocic has opted to wait for Jones rather than facing Aspinall for the interim title.

“Cigano” said on MMA Fighting’s Trocação Franca podcast that he’s “impressed” by Aspinall, a 30-year-old heavyweight from England with a 100-percent finishing rate in 14 professional victories.

“He’s the man of the moment, so he should be considered the champion,” dos Santos said. “If Jon Jones doesn’t return soon, you have to remove his belt and make Aspinall’s belt undisputed. I think he’s doing great, he really is very tough and skilled and competent at what he does. It’s a new moment for the heavyweight division in the UFC.”

Dos Santos didn’t criticize Jones and Miocic for choosing to wait and only fight each other next, especially given the magnitude of both man’s careers inside the octagon.

However, dos Santos does wonder what’s going behind the curtains.

“The UFC is always complicated in a sense that they do things their way, leaving aside the will of the champion and the challenger,” dos Santos said. “If it makes sense for [Jones and Miocic], I support them. It’s a fight the world really wanted to see, I’m really excited for this fight, and if they believe that’s the path they should follow now — especially because we don’t know what’s stopping this from happening. Let’s keep going and see what happens.”

Dos Santos, however, concedes that while the matchup could be the main focus for both athletes, the UFC belt isn’t really necessary to make Jones vs. Miocic special.

“The belt is obviously the goal for every athlete, but more to crown the position they are today,” dos Santos said. “The belt is a symbol that you’re No. 1, but Jon Jones and even Miocic, we already know they are the No. 1 and No. 2, or at least that they’re at the top of the division. Actually, Renan [Ferreira] just got in the mix. [Laughs.]

“But I think they’re both extremely experienced and have long careers, so they should do what’s best for them. There’s no point to fight only to fight, or to do things that they don’t believe in at this stage of their careers. Let’s see what happens next.”

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