The upcoming showdown between the two heavyweights at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday night is for the interim UFC Heavyweight Championship.
After a year-long injury lay-off, Aspinall clinched a win over Marcin Tybura in July, and was originally set to face Pavlovich in September 2021, but the Russian’s visa issues led to his withdrawal.
Pavlovich, since then, has secured four consecutive knockout victories and has become one of the sport’s top heavyweights. Despite some apprehension, Aspinall is embracing his underdog status as he gears up for a major victory in New York.
“I’m pretty scared, but I do my best work scared,” expressed Aspinall. “He’s a scary, intimidating guy. But fear is something I have a really good relationship with. It gives me a superpower – the more scared I am, the better I do in the fight.
“I’m the ‘Honey Badger’ moving forward, so I’m happy with that. That’s cool.”
The honey badger, also known as the ratel, is a mammal renowned for its ferocity in the face of larger predators, and several sportspeople have previously adopted the nickname, including Australian rugby player Nick Cummins and NFL star Tyrann Mathieu.
Only two British fighters have ever won UFC championships, with Aspinall hoping to follow Leon Edwards and Michael Bisping.
Stepping in with just 17 days’ notice following an injury to Jon Jones, the 30-year-old fighter is confident in his preparedness for the bout.
“I’m confident either way,” Aspinall affirmed. “I would have definitely liked more time to prepare, but I know one thing – I’m not going to win the fight sat on the couch watching it,” he said. “I’ll be in there, I’m dangerous, and it takes one shot at heavyweight. Why not be here having a go?
“As I get old I’ve realised not everyone can perform under pressure, not everyone can make the right decisions and thrive under the lights. But I’m one of the very few people who can do it.”
Sarah Foster is your guide to the world of Mixed Martial Arts. With a deep understanding of MMA’s intricacies and a passion for the sport, she offers comprehensive coverage of MMA events, fighter profiles, and in-depth analysis of fights. Sarah’s commitment to the octagon ensures that readers stay engaged with the latest developments in the MMA world.