‘Let me fight for my legacy now please’

NEW YORK – Tom Aspinall certainly impressed Jon Jones with his performance at UFC 295. He just hopes it convinces the UFC heavyweight champ to fight him.

Aspinall needed just 69 seconds to knock out Sergei Pavlovich and claim the interim title Saturday night at Madison Square Garden, which garnered praise from Jones on social media.

“Tom congratulations on the interim heavyweight championship belt!” Jones posted on X. “That was an awesome performance!”

Under normal circumstances, the interim champ would unify with the reigning champ, but that doesn’t appear likely to happen next in this situation. Jones was originally slated to defend his belt against former champ Stipe Miocic in the UFC 295 headliner, but he withdrew because of a shoulder injury that’s expected to sideline him at least eight months. UFC CEO Dana White has said the fight between Jones and Miocic will still take place once Jones is ready.

Jones’ withdrawal opened the door for Aspinall to accept an interim title fight vs. Pavlovich, who had been training as the Jones vs. Miocic backup, on two weeks’ notice. Now that he owns a piece of the heavyweight title, Aspinall made a plea to Jones when hearing about his post-fight praise.

“I’ve seen Jon talking nice stuff about me on a podcast, as well. It’s really nice,” Aspinall told reporters, including MMA Junkie, at the UFC 295 post-event news conference. “Obviously it’s always nice to hear nice things about you, but from someone like that, who I massively look up to, even more so.

Yeah, thank you, Jon. Just give me the opportunity, Jon. Let me do it. Give me my dream fight. Why not? I’ve just achieved my dream now. Give me my dream fight. Let me fight for my legacy now please.”

Aspinall  (14-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC), 30, is a worthy challenger to Jones. The only blemish on his UFC record was an injury TKO loss to Curtis Blaydes after he blew out his knee just seconds into their headliner in July 2022. That sidelined Aspinall for a year as he returned this past July to defeat Marcin Tybura by first-round TKO. Prior to the injury defeat, Aspinall was on a five-fight winning streak.

Aspinall, who said he pulled a back muscle when he started training for UFC 295, is looking to take only a little bit of time off to relish his victory. Realistically if he wants to have a chance to fight Jones, Aspinall might have to wait a year, which he doesn’t want to do but is willing to if it meant a dream fight with Jones.

“No, I don’t want to wait a year. I definitely don’t want to wait a year,” Aspinall said. “I think that me and Jones is the fight to make, to be honest. If I have to wait a year, I will. That’s the fight I really, really want. And I think that me and Jon in the U.K., that’s just a dream for everybody. The UFC, fans, everybody will love that.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie


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