• Tom Aspinall has UFC Heavy Hopes on Fight Night

    Published Friday 19 February 2021 11:51am

    3 min read

    Since the retirement of Michael Bisping from MMA in 2018, the UK has been searching for its next flag bearer to pin hopes to, in what is one of the fastest growing sports for UK sport fans.
Cassiano Correia / Shutterstock.com

By James Waring

Since then nobody has come close to reaching such heights, with only Darren Till gaining any significant notoriety and exposure as a potential flag bearer, only to ultimately fall when tested amongst the very best.  His time may well still come, but UK MMA fans may potentially have a new star on their hands and not only that, a Heavyweight star.

UK Heavyweight Prospect

On Saturday 20th February, UK heavyweight prospect Tom Aspinall enters the UFC octagon for just the 3rd time, looking to catch the eye once again in what will be his biggest test yet in veteran Andrei Arlovski.  Arlovski being the former UFC Heavyweight champion and more recently prospect slayer.

Aspinall hailing from Atherton, Greater Manchester has somewhat been operating under the radar, going about his business as part of the well-established Team Kaobon in Liverpool, training with the likes of Darren Till and Mike Grundy in what is now becoming a breeding ground for UFC prospects.

Quick Finisher

Standing at 6’6” and weighing 248lbs, Aspinall has an intimidating presence and is known as a quick finisher.  Both of his UFC appearances to date have not gone past 1 round and in total he has barely had more than 2 minutes Octagon time.

However, underestimate him at your peril.  Aspinall is not just a heavy hitter, but also black belt in BJJ (Brazilian Jiu Jitsu).  Starting martial arts at age 7, Aspinall now 27 has a rich background competing on the domestic scene for the past 10 years under the guidance of his Dad, the well renowned BJJ coach and scholar, Andy Aspinall.  It may be fair to say he was born to fight.

Riches on offer

Now a Dad of 3 himself, Aspinall is fighting to provide a good life for his young family and there is a real opportunity for him to capitalise on a shallow division to make a real impact in the UFC and propel himself into a position to take advantage of the riches on offer.

Aspinall appears to have it all, but what may set him apart from his counterparts is his modesty and honest demeanour.  It is quite refreshing to hear Aspinall admit he suffers huge nerves prior to any fight, but at the same time there is a very quiet confidence with Aspinall, who appears to not be fazed with the bright lights of the UFC and the undoubted external pressures this now brings.  It may be a result of the time Aspinall was a regular sparring partner for none other than Tyson Fury.  The ‘Gypsy King’ well known for not taking himself too seriously, but is there a more confident athlete around today?

All these learning experiences have no doubt set Aspinall up to be well equipped for what lies ahead.  One thing is for certain is that UK fight fans will be watching closely to see how this journey develops.

This fight, along with the rest of the card can be found on UFC Fight Night on BT Sport 1 from 11pm on February 20th.