In March, Aspinall headlined the UFC’s first trip to London in over three years, submitting Alexander Volkov in the first round. Aspinall’s performance capped off a tremendous night of fights for the London fans, and afterward, UFC president Dana White promised to return soon. On Saturday, that promise will be fulfilled as once again Aspinall headlines in front of his home crowd. And as a man partly responsible for the UFC’s quick return to the O2 Arena, Aspinall guarantees this event will live up to the hype.
“It means a lot, and I think a big part of why we’re back here is because of me,” Aspinall said ahead of UFC London. “I’m not trying to sound mad egotistical, but I think that without me pulling him to the side — it wasn’t like I was asking him a question. I wasn’t like, ‘Oh Dana, can we please come back?’ I was like, ‘Dana, we’re coming back here this year. Let’s make it happen.’ And he agreed with it. He couldn’t really say no because it was an unbelievable night in March and there’s going to be another unbelievable night this Saturday.
“It’s a special place to fight and we’ve got special fighters on the card, so it can’t possibly be boring. It’s going to be absolutely wild.”
If the first trip to London is any indication, then Saturday’s card should be special.
However, Aspinall is facing an even tougher test this time around. In the main event, Aspinall takes on Curtis Blaydes, the No. 5-ranked heavyweight in the MMA Fighting Global Rankings. Blaydes will be the biggest test of Aspinall’s career, but heading into this bout, the English fighter believes he has a critical advantage over Blaydes.
“You can’t buy experience, and I’ve been here before,” Aspinall said. “I think that everybody who’s on this card, whether you’re a home fighter or away fighter, you need to take into account that the English fans are different. The U.K. fans are different to any other fans in the world. They’re absolutely wild, and the atmosphere in there, it can either make you or break you, and I think you’ve got to be prepared.”
How that advantage might manifest itself for Aspinall is yet to be determined.
Even Aspinall admits it’s hard to predict how this fight will go, but in the end, the Manchester native doesn’t really care. Aspinall says he’s prepared for everything and will take whatever comes in the fight.
“This is MMA. He’s a great wrestler, he’s great at other stuff as well, so I have to be expecting everything,” Aspinall said. “Obviously he brings a massive threat in the wrestling department, so I’ve prepared for that. I’ve prepared for everything. This is MMA — you can’t just be like, ‘Oh, he’s going to come out and just take me down.’ Obviously he’s got great takedowns, but I’m ready for his striking as well, and his submission game. You have to be ready for everything.
“I’m a winner. That’s all I care about. I want to win. Don’t care how I win. But I’m a fierce, fierce competitor. I’m fiercely competitive, and I’m trying to win. That’s it.”