Morning Report: Tom Aspinall ‘putting it all on the line’ in ‘lose-lose’ matchup against Curtis Blaydes

Tom Aspinall has to get through one more tough test before he can have a chance at becoming the undisputed UFC heavyweight champion.

Technically, Curtis Blaydes has been Aspinall’s kryptonite in his UFC career thus far (7-1, 14-3 overall). Okay, that’s being incredibly technical, but on record, Blaydes did score a 15-second TKO over the Brit when they first met at UFC London in July 2022. The win came as a result of a freak ACL tear and it seemingly only strengthened Aspinall as he ran through Marcin Tybura and Sergei Pavlovich upon his return. His reward? That shiny new interim crown gained from the latter victory this past November.

Aspinall vs. Blaydes 2 goes down in UFC 304’s co-main event when the promotion returns to Manchester, England on July 27, 2024. Both have said that the first fight has to be thrown out the window when it comes to preparation. Ultimately, it’s still the most dangerous fight available, believes Aspinall.

“There’s unfinished business there, evidently,” Aspinall told The Mac Life. “I’ve said this all along. I’ve said this before we last fought, which is over two years ago now: I believe that Curtis is the toughest matchup in the division for me stylistically. This is no disrespect to Curtis — it’s a bit of a lose-lose fight in the fact that he’s not that popular, is what I’m saying. He’s not that popular.

“The guys that you want to fight are the guys who stylistically you match up well with, and they’re really popular. They’re the guys you want to fight, and Curtis is kind of the opposite of that. I’m not saying anything bad about Curtis or anything, but he’s not the most popular guy ever, and he’s really good. I’m looking forward to it, though. None of that really makes a difference to me. I am preparing now 100 percent for Curtis.”

By this point, you surely are aware of all the turmoil that’s been caused atop the heavyweight division so I’ll spare all the details everyone already knows. In summary, the undisputed champion Jon Jones, Stipe Miocic, and the UFC all still want to see Jones vs. Miocic happen above any other heavyweight title clash.

Yeah, that’s even with Miocic openly admitting he just wants Jones and doesn’t care about the title, but whatever.

In response to Jones recently stating that he “wouldn’t be surprised if Curtis won,” Aspinall acknowledged that very well might happen. In the end, that’s just the risk he’s willing to take.

“He might [beat me] — it’s heavyweight MMA at the top level,” Aspinall said. “Someone always might win, and I believe in myself. Yeah, I think I’m good. I think I’m the best in the world. But does that make me invincible? No. Absolutely not. It’s heavyweight MMA. One shot off Curtis and the ref might be waking me up. That’s how it works. This is heavyweight MMA at the peak of the mountain. Of course, there’s a chance I can get knocked out. I’m fully aware of that. But I’m putting it all on the line, and quite frankly, [Jones] isn’t.”

As much as Aspinall and Jones have verbally gone back and forth this year with no progress toward a unification fight made whatsoever, the interim champion has no ill will towards “Bones.” Right now, Jones is not on Aspinall’s radar as the hopes of fighting him faded a month or two ago. He’ll cross that bridge when, and hopefully if, it gets there.

“I honestly think Jon Jones is a legend and I respect what he’s done in the octagon,” Aspinall said. “Right now, he’s quite irrelevant to what I’m doing. I’m fighting Curtis Blaydes.

“I have nothing against Jon regardless of what he says. It’s all bollocks, but I’m 100 percent invested in beating Curtis and that’s it.”

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Craig Jones at Bangtao.

Another collaboration I never knew I needed.

Go to Twitter, use the #MorningReport hashtag, or find one of my tweets with it, and drop me a jam you’re currently really into. I’ll pick the best one alongside my daily choice and give you a shoutout! You can also share in the comments below — those are just harder to sift through sometimes!

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Seungwoo Choi (11-6) vs. Steve Garcia (15-5); UFC Vegas 94, July 20

Christian Leroy Duncan (10-1) vs. Robert Bryczek (17-6); UFC 304, July 27

Yutaka Saito (21-8-2) vs. Yuta Kubo (4-1); Super RIZIN 3, July 28

Hideo Tokoro (35-33-2) vs. Hiroya; Super RIZIN 3, July 28

Ryusei Ashizawa (0-1) vs. Koji “Kouzi” Tanaka (1-0); Super RIZIN 3, July 28

Aspinall just keeping it real as always.

Happy Friday, gang. Hope you all have a great weekend. Thanks for reading!


Is Curtis Blaydes the worst matchup for Tom Aspinall at heavyweight?

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