Tom Aspinall will leave New York City as the interim UFC heavyweight champion of the world, and he’ll make it look easy. That’s the view of former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, who has predicted a strong performance, and a clear win, for the Englishman at UFC 295.
Aspinall takes on No. 1-ranked heavyweight contender Sergei Pavlovich in the co-main event at Madison Square Garden, with the bout drafted in on short notice after the planned heavyweight title bout between Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic was ruled out due to Jones sustaining a shoulder injury during fight camp.
Pavlovich was already in camp and preparing to be in New York as the backup fighter for that matchup. But, with Jones and Miocic now off the card, he’ll take on Aspinall for the interim title, with the Brit coming into the bout on just a couple of weeks’ notice to face the hulking Russian for the strap.
On paper, it looks like a huge test for Aspinall, who demolished Polish contender Marcin Tybura in London last time out, and Bisping laid out the stakes ahead of fight night in “The Big Apple.”
“Pavlovich is knocking everyone out in the first round, he has been making scary heavyweight fighters look like little boys, and he’s been in training for a fight because he was the backup fighter for Jones,” Bisping told Betway.
“Whereas Tom’s getting off the couch – he’s been in the gym and disciplined – but he’s not been in camp and now he’s taking on Sergei at Madison Square Garden.
“You have to remember, if you take a title fight and you lose a title fight, it’s a long path to another one, so this is a big roll of the dice, but it’s an informed roll of the dice. He knows what he’s doing. He’s got balls the size of Great Britain.”
While Bisping paid tribute to Aspinall’s intestinal fortitude in taking the bout, he also declared that he’d be too much for the powerful Pavlovich as the man who holds the distinction of being the first UK fighter to capture a UFC title, said that Aspinall has what it takes to defeat Pavlovich with relative ease.
“Bet your house on it,” stated Bisping.
“One thousand percent, Tom Aspinall goes out there and beats Sergei Pavlovich and makes it look relatively easy, and hardly breaks a sweat, just like he did against Marcin Tybura.
“Granted, this is a step up in competition, which Tom knows, but I’ll call the finish right now. In and out, in and out, jab, jab, one-two, double-leg takedown, that’s a wrap. Then me and Tom Aspinall are sitting in New York on Sunday with his dad and with the team, we’re having beers.”
And the UK’s first-ever UFC champion said he expects Aspinall to eclipse his own Hall of Fame career.
“Tom absolutely can become the best heavyweight of all time,” he said.
“Tom’s ‘doing a Bisping’ in terms of the short notice, but Tom’s going to surpass my career. Tom’s going to make my career look like an amateur career. Tom’s going to reign supreme in the heavyweight division for a very long time.”
“Tom’s blown through everybody. I scratched and clawed my way to a title,” he continued.
“It was a hard old road and I lost an eye along the way, and all the rest of it, so when I became the champ I was already expired. I was already damaged goods. I had one eye for crying out loud. I had bad knees. I had the body of a man that had his butt kicked for 20 years. Whereas Aspinall is smoking everybody and still improving and still getting better.
“He’s already leaps and bounds above most people. Apart from Jon Jones and maybe Stipe Miocic, Tom is times better than the rest. He’s faster, he’s stronger, he’s better. He’s a better wrestler. He’s got great jiu-jitsu. He hits like a truck. He moves like Muhammad Ali. He’s humble. He’s young. He’s in his prime. And he’s from Lancashire.”