Atherton’s Tom Aspinall has taken an interim heavyweight championship fight – with just TWO WEEKS’ notice.
Top UFC heavyweight contender Aspinall has accepted a fight with No.2-ranked heavyweight Sergei Pavlovich to fill in for Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic after the former – the current heavyweight champion – suffered a nasty pectoral injury in training.
The fight takes place on the UFC 295 card in the iconic Madison Square Garden on 11 November, giving Aspinall just 17 days to prepare for the biggest fight of his career.
“I’ve got two weeks to train for this s*** and I’m going to get myself as ready as possible,” he said in a video on social media.
UFC president Dana White confirmed Jones’ injury and the replacement fight early this morning.
“Jon Jones was training last night, got injured, he was wrestling and he tore the tendon that connects your pec to the bone, off the bone,” White said.
With the recovery time for the injury believed to be at least eight months, a fight to crown an interim champion – someone who acts as champion whilst the full title holder is inactive – had to be made.
Up steps Aspinall – arguably the most exciting prospect in the heavyweight division – ready to take the chance to become Britain’s first UFC heavyweight champion.
Whilst an interim championship is not considered a full UFC title, it would still be a significant achievement for Aspinall who would become just the third British UFC champion after Michael Bisping and Leon Edwards.
The 30-year-old – who trains at Team Kaobon with fellow UFC talents Darren Till, Paddy Pimblett and Molly McCann – heads into the fight with a record of six wins and just one loss due to a freak injury in London last summer, with all but one of his wins coming via a first-round finish.
Aspinall faces Pavlovich, who had been on standby as the replacement fighter for the main event.
The Russian has an identical UFC record to his opponent, with six wins and one loss, all of which were knockouts in the first round.
Aspinall and Pavlovich will clash as the co-main event of the evening, with Jiří Procházka and Alex Pereira’s fight for the vacant light heavyweight title the new main event.