For two years, Tom Aspinall has been making light work of the UFC’s heavyweight division. On Saturday, Aspinall will be looking for the biggest win of his career when he faces Curtis Blaydes in the main event of UFC London in front of Aspinall’s home crowd. Aspinall made his Octagon debut in July 2020, taking just 45 seconds to beat Jake Collier. The speed of that debut victory proved to be a sign of things to come for the Brit. Now with a 5-0 UFC record, Aspinall’s fights have lasted a combined 14:44, less than the full length of a standard UFC fight.
This past March, Aspinall took a big step up the heavyweight ladder when he faced longtime contender Alexander Volkov. It took just 3:45 for Aspinall to lock up an armbar and secure his second submission win in the promotion. In Blaydes, Aspinall faces a man who has established himself as a threat to the top end of the division, even if he’s been unable to take that final step against the elite of the elite. Can’t get enough boxing and MMA? Get the latest in the world of combat sports from two of the best in the business. Subscribe to Morning Kombat with Luke Thomas and Brian Campbell for the best analysis and in-depth news, including a complete preview of UFC London below.
UFC Fight Night: Blaydes vs Tom Aspinall
Blaydes has an 11-3 record in the UFC. He started his UFC campaign with a second-round TKO loss to Francis Ngannou in April 2016. That cycle repeated itself again, nearly note for note, with Blaydes ripping off another four wins before again hitting an elite roadblock, this time in the form of multi-time world title challenger Derrick Lewis, who knocked Blaydes out in the second round in February 2021.
“I definitely think people underestimate my athleticism, even to this day,” Blaydes said in an interview with Yahoo Sports. “I don’t think a lot of people appreciate how athletic you have to be to get takedowns. They don’t get it, and I don’t care if they don’t get it. If they want to underestimate my speed, power, that’s to their detriment.”
In a heavyweight division struggling for fresh contenders, even in the injury and contract-driven absence of current champion Ngannou, the winner of the bout between Aspinall and Blaydes inches closer to their first shot at the world title, though it may be easier to make the case for a fresh challenge in Aspinall than a third fight between Blaydes and Ngannou.
The undercard has plenty of European flavor with this marking just the second card to take place in England in the last two years. Middleweight Jack Hermansson is back in an important bout with Chris Curtis. Fan favorite Paddy Pimblett returns to take on Jordan Leavitt at lightweight. Former light heavyweight title challenger Alexander Gustafsson battles it out with Nikita Krylov. And another fan favorite, Molly McCann is back to take on Hannah Goldy at women’s flyweight.