A life-long jiu-jitsu specialist with incredible striking and a ferocious work ethic… Tom Aspinall has EVERYTHING it takes to stun the UFC London crowd and one day become heavyweight champion
- Tom Aspinall is the most promising heavyweight in British MMA history
- He headlines UFC London card this Saturday and is ready to put on a show
- Michael Bisping believes it is inevitable that Aspinall will become champion
- Aspinall is so well rounded and has even spent time sparring Tyson Fury
Tom Aspinall might well become a household name over the next decade and this Saturday is likely to be his coming out party.
MMA fans have long known of his promise and despite his repeated will to take it steady, learn on the job and bide his time, the handbrake is off now.
You just can’t turn down a main event slot on home turf, even against someone as dangerous and highly-ranked as Alexander Volkov.
Tom Aspinall (left) has looked sensational since joining the UFC and is on a roll
Tom Aspinall’s main event clash is against Alexander Volkov (right) is of huge interest
We Brits have the tendency to build-up our sporting stars to impossible levels of expectation but Aspinall, 28, has a level head and talent for everyone to jump aboard this hype train.
He’s also had some prominent names singing his praises.
Tyson Fury’s father, John, who has seen his son spar with Aspinall on many occasions, believes the heavyweight has everything it takes to make it to the top.
‘I’m telling you now, Tom Aspinall will do big things in the UFC, but he’ll also have a crossover bout and he’ll probably be the first MMA fighter to do mega things in boxing as well,’ he previously told GiveMeSport.
‘But he’s got bottle and guts to burn, and he’s a big strong lad. He’s willing to learn and improve his game.
John Fury (pictured) has said he believes Aspinall can be successful in both boxing and MMA
‘He’s a good listener Tom Aspinall, I like him, I like his attitude, he’s a warrior like Tyson. He doesn’t let nothing overcome him. He doesn’t let nothing get in his way.’
And he has the blessing of Michael Bisping too, the man he is looking to emulate one day in becoming a UFC champion from these shores.
He said: ‘The one that I think I can firmly say that will become champion one day is, without a question, Tom Aspinall. He moves like a middleweight. He’s six-foot-six. He’s gigantic.
‘He’s so humble. He’s such a hard worker. He’s a lifelong jiu-jitsu specialist. He’s got incredible striking.
‘And he’s so humble that he does the work; he’s 4-0 in the UFC, four stoppages.
Bisping added: ‘He’s got a tall order with [Alexander] Volkov. But I believe if he can get through Volkov, then nothing but big, big fights.
‘Of course, we’ve got [Francis] Ngannou; he’s at the top of the food chain. But Tom’s very, very technical. So, I think Tom. I think Tom’s gonna pull it off.’
Aspinall’s early career victims include Andrei Arlovski after their bout in February last year
Aspinall may have to deal with a late change of opponent if Volkov is unable to fight as part of the sanctions hitting Russia following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
But he has spoken about being ready for that eventuality and part of that comfort comes with Aspinall being so well rounded.
Some fighters would fear having to adapt to a different style late in the day but there are so many strings to Aspinall’s bow.
He has spent time training exclusively in boxing and kickboxing. His father is a jit-jitsu coach at Team Kaobon so he has grown up on the mats and even teaches lessons himself.
Just ask Andrei Arlovski about Aspinall’s ruthless efficiency on the ground. Aspinall shot for a takedown and moments later sunk in a rear-naked choke.
It all looked ridiculously smooth against a veteran of the sport who has seen it all.
‘I train in everything,’ Aspinall explained. ‘I’m having an MMA fight so you have to be prepared for everything.
‘Obviously your opponent has certain strengths and weaknesses and you have to be prepared for their strengths, but also, this is MMA; just because your opponent hasn’t done it doesn’t mean they can’t do it. So you have to prepare for everything.
The UFC will make its long-awaited return to London in March for the first time in three years
Volkov will offer a stern test of Aspinall in the main event on Saturday night
‘I’m just speaking from experience; I’ve only shown between five and 10 per cent of what I can actually do. There’s plenty more things that I’ve got that people have no idea about.’
That is a frightening prospect for the rest of the division. Aspinall has genuine power, as most heavyweights do, but incredible speed, footwork and a ground game to match.
There are question marks about the wrestling ability of British fighters given their lack of exposure to top class competitors in comparison with the US and Russia so that remains one area for Aspinall to prove himself.
But skill-wise, he ticks just about every box. He trains regularly with Darren Till, who cannot sing his praises enough.
The veteran Russian is tall and can fight at range that could be a challenge for Aspinall
The middleweight told the Believe You Me podcast: ‘He’s so sharp mate. Honestly, it’s a beauty to watch.
‘You come in in the mornings and he’s doing his routine pad work with coach Colin, and you see him sparring… Not to discredit any of these guys, but he’s just—I mean, me and Tom don’t really spar each other anymore; we just know each other to a T, but it’s just how fast and quick he is, and his thinking.
‘Honestly, his striking, his whole game, but his striking is just impeccable, it really is; it’s a beauty to watch,’ Till added.
‘I’m very confident that Tom is probably going to be the next British champion before anybody else. He’s just on a roll—his confidence, his humbleness.
‘Not to discredit Volkov, but I think he’s (Aspinall) gonna finish Volkov in the first round.
Aspinall is ready to adapt if Alexander Volkov is unable to fight him at UFC London
‘From what I’m seeing, training-wise, he’s so motivated—he’s in every day, he’s training hard, he’s getting pushed by the right people, and I just want him to do well.’
Aspinall has won three fights by KO in the UFC, all in the first round, and the other by second-round submission.
His main event slot is 25 minutes but there’s a fair chance the young Brit could put a stop to proceedings well before then.
If Aspinall can dispatch the Russian, the excitement about him will reach new levels and perhaps in years to come, Saturday will be seen as the night the world stood up and took notice.
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