The top 15-ranked heavyweight fighter is a former member of Tyson Fury’s training team, and hasn’t lost in MMA since May 2016, but he wants to take it slow in the UFC
Top UFC prospect Tom Aspinall has admitted that he is “not ready” for too big of a step-up despite brutally stopping Serghei Spivak within a round on Saturday night.
The Salford native, who is a former sparring partner of world heavyweight boxing champion Tyson Fury and his title contender cousin Hughie, believes that he must take his development slowly after racing into the UFC’s top 15.
Aspinall was scheduled to face fellow ranked heavyweight Sergei Pavlovich on Saturday night, but a visa issue meant that Spivak has to step in at the last minute.
And after stopping the number 14 heavyweight Spivak halfway through the first round of their clash over the weekend, Aspinall was asked if he would be ready for a big steup up, to which he said he is not yet ready.
“I need a lot more experience before I fight [the top of the division] guys,” Aspinall said at the UFC Vegas 36 post-fight press conference. “I’m not ready for them guys yet.
“This doesn’t mean I’m not confident – this means I’m very confident in my ability, but I’m also confident that I need to be ready to beat these guys.
“So I’m not in a rush, I’ve just turned 28, I’ve got another 10 years and people better get used to seeing me around, because I ain’t going anywhere.”
Aspinall signed to the UFC just weeks before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic last year, and has had to fight mostly behind-closed-doors or in front of small crowds at the UFC Apex or on ‘Fight Island’.
But he has built up a solid record, going 4-0 in the promotion, and announcing himself as a ranked fighter with a second round win over former world champion Andrei Arlovski in February.
And his win over Spivak will likely earn him another improvement in competition, although he isn’t yet concerned about top stars in the division like Francis Ngannou and Stipe Miocic.
“I just want to fight guys that are around my ranking. I believe in earning your title shot,” Aspinall continued.
“I don’t believe in the hype train pushing you to a title shot – I believe in earning it, so I want to fight the guy above me.
“Some guy who just interviewed me, he brought up Blagoy Ivanov [number 13-ranked heavyweight] and that’s a fight I would love.
“He’s a very durable guy, I have a lot of respect for him – he’s been around for a long time and he is so, so tough.
“I want to see with my power and speed, I want to see how that does against someone like that.”
Aspinall was one of a number of British fighters who impressed over the weekend, with the debuting Paddy Pimblett, top flyweight Molly McCann and undefeated Welshman Jack Shore all picking up big wins.
Aspinall and McCann were both awarded $50,000 bonuses for their performances, while Pimblett garnered more than 300,000 new fans on social media with his first round KO win.