UFC heavyweight Tom Aspinall said he was thinking strategically when he called out the winner of UFC Paris’ winner after a triumphant comeback win at UFC London. Then he admitted his strategy could use some tweaking.
Aspinall waved on a fight with the winner of Ciryl Gane vs. Serghei Spivak, which headlines UFC Paris in September. One possible issue with that: He already owns a dominant win over Spivak, a first-round TKO in 2021 that left no doubt about the superior fighter that night.
There’s another UFC heavyweight with the same first name (albeit spelled slightly different) that presents a much more attractive option for Aspinall’s legacy and title aspirations: Sergei Pavlovich. But there are reasons the British heavyweight didn’t bite on that.
“I mean, it would be good to save it for a title, as well, because I’m pretty sure that we’re going fight for it a couple of times,” Aspinall said Monday on The MMA Hour. “I think it’s not gonna be a one and done.
“Also, I’m going to partially put the blame on Michael Bisping for this one, because Michael Bisping told me that you should always try and fight the guy who just fought for a title and lost it. That’s what the people want to seem because he’s like the next best in line. So I thought Ciryl Gane just fought for the title, lost it. If he wins. That would be perfect.”
Less than perfect, of course, would be the scenario in which Spivak upsets ex-interim champ Gane to present a matchup no one asked for. Aspinall didn’t quite know what to say on that.
“I’m new to this calling out people stuff,” he admitted. “It’s not usually my style. I’m just trying to get myself a fight. I’m trying to secure the next move, and people wanted to hear it. People went wild when I started doing that. People were loving it.
“I would definitely agree with that [idea that Pavlovich makes more sense]. I see exactly what you mean, and I’m not disputing that you’re right. I’m just saying that for whatever reason, that was fresh on my mind for the week. But, you know, the way I see it, we’re all going to fight each other anyway. Like, we’re all young-ish guys around our prime before. I think I’m way before my prime, personally.”
As a heavyweight now in his prime (and recovered from a devastating injury layoff), Aspinall likes the idea of working outside the octagon as well as inside it. To do that, he thinks putting his name alongside up-and-comers on the European event schedule is a smart move.
“All week when I was in London, there was just a lot of talk about UFC Paris,” he said. “So, it’s kind of fresh on my mind. ... I was doing my thing for [UFC U.K. broadcast parter] BT sport, now I’m hoping to do more things for TNT Sport. So I was thinking, ours is European show. TNT sport are going to be there. I want to do the pundit stuff again. I’m going to be there.
“Why not make a bit of a scene and throw me in the cage after, and we’ll have a little bit of a standoff for the crowd. I thought that would be a lot of fun. That’s what I was thinking, to be honest with you.”
If Pavlovich is the next opponent, however, Aspinall has no issue with that. They’ve already been matched up on one occasion, a UFC Vegas 36 booking that was scuttled due to the Russian’s visa issues.
“I think we’re all going to end up fighting each other anyway,” Aspinall said. “So the order doesn’t really matter as much.”
All of the standout heavyweights are gunning for the heavyweight title currently held by Jon Jones, and reports of retirement for “Bones” after UFC 295 have only upped the urgency. At 30, Aspinall isn’t feeling that quite yet.
“I think we’re all going to end up fighting each other anyway,” he said. “So the order doesn’t really matter as much.”