Tom Aspinall: Britain’s UFC Heavyweight Hope
By James Lee
Heavyweight boxing has forever been ingrained into British combat history. From Henry Cooper, Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis of the past to Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury leading the line presently, one of the country’s greatest global assets can be found between the ropes.
However, as Britain has been fortunate in the boxing realm, a similar heavyweight figure in mixed martial arts has yet to emerge. A plentiful amount of British talent have found success across multiple weight classes in the octagon from Michael Bisping, Dan Hardy, Darren Till and Joanne Calderwood. Though, no heavyweight has climbed to similar heights.
That notion may all be about to change on Saturday, however, as Tom Aspinall could become a ranked heavyweight contender providing he can overthrow former champion and fifty-one fight veteran Andrei Arlovski.
After a prolonged break, Aspinall returned to the sport in 2019 intending to be where he is currently. A fifty-six-second finish over Frenchman Michael Ben Hamouda began his newfound aspiration and earned him plaudits from the community in a headlining spot. A further technical knockout finish under the Cage Warriors banner secured his call-up to the sport’s premier promotion, as an invitation for the annual UFC London card was passed down to the Team Kaobon fighter.
The eventual cancellation of the event looked likely to quash his desire to make a statement in 2020, but it thankfully did not stop him as he swiftly asserted himself as the next big thing at heavyweight and a British hope for coveted gold.
An initial forty-five second knockout of Jake Collier in July was shortly followed by a further first-round TKO over Alan Baudot in October. Those performances were enough to garner global attention, but most importantly, give him a promotional push that some fighters can wait years for, and most never get.
Aspinall is the exception, as he has become the latest fighter to be given Arlovski as an extensive test of his abilities. ‘The Pitbull’ has become synonymous with testing the upcoming talent more recently, as Stipe Miocic, Francis N’Gannou, and Jairzinho Rozenstruik have all toppled him on their way to the top.
So, success in Las Vegas will prove he not only belongs on the sport’s biggest stage but amongst the very best in the world, with greater opportunities imminent.
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