English heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall has the biggest fight of his career at UFC London on Saturday night, but the level-headed Brit is taking everything in his stride as he gets set for his first UFC main event.
Aspinall will compete on home soil at The O2 Arena against longtime UFC contender and former Bellator heavyweight champion Alexander Volkov in the headline bout in the English capital, and a packed house of crazed Brits is expected to roar him on as he looks to score the biggest win of his career so far.
Despite his rapid rise up the heavyweight ranks – and the glare of the main event spotlight – Aspinall continues to stay calm and composed as he embarks on fight week in London.
And, speaking ahead of his bout, Aspinall credited WBC heavyweight champion of the world Tyson Fury for helping him instill a balanced mindset. The pair used to spar together during Fury’s previous fight camps, and Aspinall said Fury’s mindset rubbed off on him during their time together.
“I trained at Team Fury I think altogether for 18 months, two years every day, and that experience was just a fantastic experience,” he told the UFC.
“Before I trained there, I was in my early 20s, so I would take it a little bit too serious. If I was making mistakes in the gym, or I made a mistake in a fight, I would really take it to heart and get down on myself.
“When I went over to train with the Furys, and especially around Tyson, he would take it just as a sport – he wouldn’t take it too serious. He would mess around a lot and he would enjoy it. He really enjoys training and it was just nice to be around (someone) like that.”
Aspinall said that Fury’s laid-back approach to his intense day job has helped him stay on the level as he looks to embark on his own heavyweight run inside the octagon.
“I learned a lot, obviously technically, but really just seeing his approach and how much he does enjoy it and not taking it too seriously … that kind of rubbed off on me a little bit,” he said.
“Now that training’s getting a little bit harder and I’m getting a little bit more tired, I’m just trying to hold on to just enjoying it and trying to get back to just enjoying it and flowing with my techniques as opposed to forcing stuff.
“My outlook on my sport changed a lot with being around someone like him who’s at the top of his game. My outlook on everything changed, big time.”