This weekend, MMA’s premier promotion is set to return to England’s capital for the first time since before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. On that card in 2019, Darren Till, long thought to be the country’s most promising star, headlined alongside Jorge Masvidal.
This time, a new Englishman making waves in the UFC is ready for his time to shine. Aspinall, a teammate of Till at Liverpool’s Team Kaobon, has made his name known in the heavyweight division since arriving in 2020.
After an unbeaten 4-0 start, which includes a submission of former champion Andrei Arlovski and a brutal TKO of the ranked Sergey Spivak, the 28-year-old is ready for his opportunity to break into the elite.
That chance comes this Saturday inside London’s famed O2 Arena, where he’ll stand toe-to-toe with perennial contender Alexander Volkov.
Given his impressive form in the Octagon so far and rapid rise up the heavyweight ladder, Aspinall would be forgiven for looking ahead to what the future might hold with a victory over “Drago.” But for the #11-ranked Brit, the Russian behemoth is the only thing on his mind.
Aspinall Fully Focused On The Task At Hand
During a recent appearance on Submission Radio, Aspinall assessed his upcoming rival. While he’s preparing for his first headline spot in the UFC, Volkov will be topping the card for an incredible sixth time tomorrow.
That experience, along with the Russian’s abilities, has Aspinall acknowledging Volkov as his clear toughest test to date in professional MMA.
“He’s by far the biggest, literally the biggest, and the biggest and best opponent that I’ve ever fought,” admitted Aspinall. “I know this is an absolutely enormous step up for me from my other opponents, I know that. Obviously, I feel like I’m ready for that. He brings so much to the table. He’s so good everywhere.”
With that in mind, the 28-year-old knows he has to invest his complete attention on “Drago” if he’s to have his hand raised in front of his home crowd.
When asked what a victory might do for his career moving forward, Aspinall claimed that if his sights stray beyond his immediate challenge, he’ll be waking up with the lights of the O2 above him.
“Do you want a boring answer? I’m not looking too far forward. Because I know that if I take my eye off this guy, man, I’m fucking waking up under them lights with them smelling salts under my nose, you know what I mean?” Aspinall asserted. “I ain’t thinking past this guy. This guy is seriously dangerous, seriously skilled, and seriously experienced. He’s far beyond anyone that I’ve ever fought before, so I can’t think past this guy.”
While the heavyweight title picture is unclear at the moment, with champion Francis Ngannou facing a lengthy time on the sidelines following surgery and the uncertain status of Jon Jones, a victory over Volkov would undoubtedly add Aspinall to the conversation.
Who do you think will move closer to title contention at UFC London, Tom Aspinall or Alexander Volkov?