Tom Aspinall can’t confirm Manchester PPV rumors, but negotiation with UFC ‘moving in the right direction’

Tom Aspinall is still looking forward to having a big year.

The UFC’s interim heavyweight champion awaits his next booking and with UFC CEO Dana White teasing a return to England in 2024, it only makes sense to include Aspinall in those plans. Should that return come in the form of a pay-per-view card, Aspinall and fellow Englishman Leon Edwards, the current welterweight champion, could book bouts to headline the event.

Answering fan questions on his YouTube channel, Aspinall responded to a question about the possibility of Manchester in July. If he has the inside scoop, he’s keeping it close to the vest for now.

“I cannot confirm or deny because I will be getting told off if I do either, but I’m hearing strong rumors and I’m in talks right now with the UFC about what’s going to happen, what’s going to be the next step, stuff like that,” Aspinall said. “Nothing that I can announce yet, nothing set in stone yet, but we’re moving in the right direction with it all.”

Aspinall had one of the best campaigns of any fighter in 2023, returning from a knee injury to defeat Marcin Tybura, and then capturing a vacant interim title by knocking Sergei Pavlovich out at UFC 295. Undisputed champion Jon Jones is currently inactive as he recovers from injury and awaits a bout with Stipe Miocic, leaving Aspinall’s dance card open.

When Aspinall suffered his injury, it was just 15 seconds into a bout with Curtis Blaydes, so the two naturally have unfinished business. Blaydes just finished the streaking Jailton Almeida with strikes at UFC 299, so a rematch with Aspinall is a distinct possibility, one that Aspinall is ready for.

“I’d like to fight Curtis Blaydes because when I fought him I got injured and that means that technically he wins and I don’t like that,” Aspionall said. “I want to be the winner, not Curtis Blaydes, so all respect to Curtis and everything. Like him, good guy, professionally I owe him a beating, so that’s what I want to do next.”

As highly anticipated as that rematch would be, it is still Aspinall’s second choice. Since winning the interim belt, Aspinall has campaigned to face Jones in a unification bout, to no avail.

Asked about where his confidence levels are for a hypothetical Jones fight, Aspinall admitted that he’s afraid of Jones, but that that fear only motivates him further.

“I’m obviously confident that I could beat Jon Jones because I want to fight him,” Aspinall said. “I’m not making it a secret that I want to fight him. I’ve done everything I can until this point. Do I fear him? Absolutely. I fear all of my opponents. These guys are the best in the world, absolute best in the world. Absolutely I fear him, that fuels me. So I want to prove that I’m the best in the world. I want to fight Jon Jones, obviously, but he doesn’t, so there’s not a lot I can do about that.”

Aspinall and Jones were recently face to face at an event in Birmingham, England, and Aspinall had the chance to size Jones up and ask him directly for a fight. The matchup remains in limbo and Aspinall later said he’d be “very, very surprised” if they ever fight.

At this point, Aspinall is resigned to that fact.

“No, I don’t think Jon wants to fight,” Aspinall said. “Obviously, I want it. I can’t do anymore. I’ve bitched about him, I’ve cried about him, I’ve said good stuff to him, said bad stuff to him, I’ve asked him about fighting to his face, it’s still not going on. I’ve asked the UFC to fight him, it’s still not going on, so I don’t know what else I can do at this point. But I want the fight, obviously.”

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