Combat sports’ Hollywood division is changing in the UFC and Liverpool’s very own Tom Aspinall is leading the way for English heavyweights in this transition as its sole representative.
The days of your big, labouring heavy hitters dominating at the top of the rankings are numbered as we begin to move into an era with leaner, quicker and more technically gifted athletes staking their claim to be contenders in the pinnacle of MMA.
It feels like the division has opened up this year since the goat Stipe Miocic was knocked out by Francis Ngannou at UFC 260.
We also have an interim champion in Cyril Gane, who is the number one example of this new era and proved that last month when he dominated and knocked out veteran Derick Lewis at UFC 265.
Tom Aspinall is certainly part of the new school and this Saturday he has a chance to showcase his talent once again as he comes up against Serghei Spivac in the co-main event.
Aspinall’s last outing got him into the rankings at 13th after he forced UFC legend Andrei Arlovski to tap with a rear naked choke. The way in which he pounced on the former heavyweight champion and finished him with such ease has really made people take notice.
This will be Aspinall’s biggest test so far though and he’ll need to use his entire skill set to come out of this with his arm raised.
Spivac is a powerful man, with a 13-2 record including six submissions and five knockouts to his name. He has won each of his last three bouts, including a unanimous decision win over Aleksei Oleinik in June. He steps in for Sergei Pavlovich on a week’s notice after the Russian had visa issues and was forced to withdraw.
Spivac is ranked one place above Pavlovich in the official UFC rankings, so it should be seen as a tougher challenge for Aspinall who is keen to advance his way up those charts.
A win for the Liverpudlian could bump him up into the top ten and set him on his way to some big nights, meaning the possibility of Aspinall being in title contention by the end of next year isn’t an unrealistic one.
He’s trained in MMA since seven years of age and is a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. His dad is a trainer at Team Kaebon in Liverpool and he even took time out of MMA to tune up his boxing skills where he spent time sparing with Tyson Fury. You really can’t be more prepared than Aspinall is for this.
With Dana White refusing to let the division stagnate while it waits for Jon Jones, by the time the former light heavyweight is ready to fight, he may well wish he hadn’t bothered moving up.