Tom Aspinall, the Ultimate Fighting Championship heavyweight contender, was unfazed when he was offered his upcoming title shot. It was exactly what he had anticipated. The sole surprise was its timing. Aspinall was recently caught off guard by a dawn call from the promotion, inquiring if he was prepared to fight with just two weeks’ notice. The next day, he was scheduled to face Sergei Pavlovich for the interim title at UFC 295, which is set for November 11 at Madison Square Garden.
The original plan for UFC 295 was for Jon Jones to defend his title against heavyweight legend Stipe Miocic as the headliner. However, when Jones suffered a pectoral injury, Miocic reportedly declined a change in opponent, causing the fight to fall through. This situation propelled Aspinall and Pavlovich, two of the fastest-emerging talents in the heavyweight division, into the limelight and onto a collision course. Interestingly, Aspinall disclosed that a potential title bout against Pavlovich had been contemplated even before Jones’ injury.
Jones had previously toyed with the idea of retiring after his bout with Miocic, who was also seemingly uninterested in other matches. Aspinall shared that the UFC was receptive to the prospect of both seasoned fighters retiring post-UFC 295. This would have left the heavyweight division’s crown unclaimed, and Aspinall claimed that under such circumstances, he would have faced Pavlovich for the vacant title early in the coming year. During his recent appearance on “The MMA Hour,” Aspinall spoke candidly about UFC’s secretive strategy. “I guess I can speak about it now, really. I was sworn to secrecy a little bit. The original plan was, obviously, them two guys were going to fight…If they were both going to retire, then I was going to fight Pavlovich for the vacant title anyway. Like early next year… It was just a big waiting game for me.”