UFC 295: Tom Aspinall ‘fighting the scariest guy in MMA’ without a training camp

Tom Aspinall got the opportunity to fight for an interim title at UFC 295 a few weeks ago, but does he have enough time to prepare?

By: Nate Wilcox | 4 weeks ago
UFC 295: Tom Aspinall ‘fighting the scariest guy in MMA’ without a training camp
MMA: UFC Fight Night - London - Aspinall vs Tybura Jul 22, 2023; London, UNITED KINGDOM; Tom Aspinall (red gloves) prior to the fight against Marcin Tybura (blue gloves) during UFC Fight Night at O2 Arena. | Per Haljestam / USA TODAY Network, IMAGO

No training camp for UFC 295, no problem for Tom Aspinall

Tom Aspinall is getting his first UFC championship opportunity this Saturday. After Jon Jones’ withdrawal from his fight against Stipe Miocic at UFC 295 due to injury, the promotion shuffled some things around and got a short-notice replacement for a pair of up-and-coming heavyweight contenders. With Jones needing surgery and sitting on the sidelines for the next couple of months, the UFC opted to crown an interim champion in his time away. 

The two names vying for it are Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich, two names who were widely considered potential challengers for Jones if he were to get through Miocic. Now, on a few days notice, the contenders share the Octagon, and one of them feels as though he has nothing to lose despite the short-notice nature of the fight. 

“I’m fighting the scariest guy in MMA in my opinion, in the worst circumstances possible without a training camp,” said Aspinall during his UFC 295 media day on Wednesday (video provided by TheMacLife). “But I obviously think I can win. I’m not the kind of guy who shows up for money. I ain’t signing a contract and showing up if I don’t think I can win. 

“I truly, truly believe that I could win on Saturday night,” continued Aspinall. “I’m going to win on Saturday night. I’m an absolute winner, and I find a way to win, no matter what the circumstances [are]. The odds are definitely stacked against me, but it’ll be even better when I win the title on Saturday night.“ 

Aspinall faced worse circumstances before

July 23, 2022, Greenwich, London, London, UK, United Kingdom: LONDON, UK - JULY 23: Tom Aspinall leaves the octagon on a stretcher after suffer a serious knee injury during his fight against Curtis Blaydes in their Heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night: Blaydes v Aspinall event at The O2 Arena on July 23, 2022, in Greenwich, London, United Kingdom. Greenwich, London United Kingdom -
Tom Aspinall leaves the octagon on a stretcher after suffer a serious knee injury during his fight against Curtis Blaydes. | ScottxGarfitt / ZUMA Wire, IMAGO

Fans will recall that Aspinnall suffered a 15 second TKO loss against Curtis Blaydes last year at UFC London. It wasn’t clear what exactly happened at the time as Aspinall was stretchered out of the Octagon after throwing a single kick in the fight.

Turns out he suffered “a torn MCL, a torn meniscus, and some ACL damage” that required surgery to repair. The time it took to recover was challenging for the heavyweight and he got tired of talking about it to friends and fans.

“I’m sick of speaking about it. For the last year, people have been stopping me on the street every day, asking, ‘How’s the knee?’ And now that the fight is coming up, it’s every interview. … I can’t wait to never speak about it again.

“Depressing, horrendous … absolutely horrendous,” Aspinall told Full Circle with bet365. “It made me want to quit the sport for a little while. For a couple of days (after the injury) I didn’t want to carry on. I fell out with everything and everyone for a little. It’s just not very nice mate, it’s just horrendous — lay on the floor on your back in front of 22,000 of your own fans with a knee that is numb, locked up, being unable to move it and knowing that I was supposed to go away.

“I was supposed to go and see family in Poland for about a month, I was going to do a little tour of Poland see family and friends and everything, the Mrs. was already out there with the kids and I had to cancel that. I had to go down to London and get surgery, recover for a year, and it’s not ideal. I thought I’m going to get a big old win bonus and go and enjoy myself in Poland and see the family and friends for like a month It wasn’t meant to be, but to be honest I’m really grateful that it happened because I’m way different now in a more positive light. I’m really happy with everything.”

But after a 364 days off, Aspinall was able to return to the Octagon and put it to the unfortunate Marcin Tybura at UFC London this past July, winning by TKO after just 1:13 of the first round.

Aspinall hopes to fight Jon Jones after he returns

After that win, Aspinall had some very ambitious plans.

“It’s been a really tough year for me. Guys, listen. I wasn’t myself last year. This is a whole new version of me. I’m not going to say I’m back because I’m different now. I’m just different than what I was last year. My mind is different. My body is different and I’m going all the way.”

“I’ll tell you exactly what I’m going to do. I’m going to go to Paris.” Aspinall said when asked by his future plans. “I’m going to be sat front row for Ciryl Gane and Sergey Spivak. I’m going to beat the winner and then I’m going to beat Jon Jones.”

Unfortunately for Aspinall it seems more than likely that Jon Jones will retire after he recovers from his recent injury and fights one more fight — either against Stipe Miocic for the UFC title or maybe, just maybe (c’mon we all know there’s zero chance but we can hope) against Francis Ngannou for the lineal MMA heavyweight title.

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About the author
Nate Wilcox
Nate Wilcox

Nate Wilcox is the founding editor of BloodyElbow.com. As such he has hired every editor and writer to work for the site. Wilcox’s writing for BE is known for its emphasis on MMA history, the evolution of fighting techniques and strong opinions. Wilcox developed the SBN MMA consensus rankings which were featured in USA Today from 2009 to 2011. Before founding BE, Wilcox was a political operative working for such figures as Senators John Kerry and Mark Warner and an early political blogger. He is the co-author of Netroots Rising, a history of the political blogosphere from 2003 to 2007. Wilcox also hosts the Let It Roll podcast on music history for the Pantheon Podcast Network.

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