Tom Aspinall is living a dream right now.
On Saturday night, Aspinall turned in the best performance of his UFC career, scoring a first-round submission win over Alexander Volkov in the main event of UFC London. It was a coming out party for Aspinall, the No. 12 heavyweight in MMA Fighting’s Global Rankings who now moves into the upper echelons of the division — and doing so in front of a capacity crowd at The O2 in London was the cherry on top.
“It couldn’t have gone any better,” Aspinall said in his post-fight press conference. “That was the ideal performance. I truly thought I was gonna go five rounds. To get a guy like Volkov — who has been finished twice [in the UFC] — out of there in the first round, just shows credit to my finishing ability. My finishing ability is highest of the high level.
“[It was] everything I dreamed of and more. Unbelievable. I see a lot of media and s*** like that, ‘Oh, he’s gonna feel the pressure when he fights in front of a crowd. Oh, he’s gonna feel the pressure with Volkov who is a veteran.’ Other people might feel the pressure. Other people are not me. I’m different.”
Aspinall certainly is looking different. His five UFC victories have all come by way of stoppage, with four of them being in the first round, and he’s earned four Performance of the Night bonuses. And given how dominant he’s been, Aspinall says that he still hasn’t shown all of his ability yet.
“I didn’t really show much,” Aspinall said. “I keep it that way every time if I can. I want to be the biggest mystery in heavyweight MMA. These people think they know about me — nobody knows about me. These people think they know what they’re up against — nobody knows what they’re up against. Let’s keep it a secret.”
The next man up to try and learn those secrets might just be another surging young heavyweight contender: Tai Tuivasa.
After his win, Aspinall called for a fight with Tuivasa, who recently knocked out Derrick Lewis at UFC 271 and moved into the top 5 of the heavyweight rankings. Aspinall believes that would be a tremendous fight for the fans.
Tuivasa could even teach him the ways of the shoey.
“Big fan of Tai. Big shout out to Tai,” Aspinall said.
“The reason why I called out Tai is, first of all, I’m a massive fan of his style. Second of all, massive fan of his personality. And the crowd goes wild when he fights, and apparently, the crowd goes wild when I fight. So me and him in the U.K.? Come on, bro! What a good time that would be. Let’s line it up. Next U.K. card, get me and Tai on it.
“I’m a shoey virgin at the moment, but if Tai wants to do one, I will. Big shout-out to Tai for doing his thing.”