NEW YORK – Tom Aspinall admits “two weeks isn’t long enough to prepare for a fight,” but he thinks he can still get the job done and beat Sergei Pavlovich for the interim heavyweight title at UFC 295.
After an injury to champion Jon Jones scratched Saturday’s original headliner against Stipe Miocic, the UFC shifted gears and booked Aspinall (13-3 MMA, 6-1 UFC) vs. Pavlovich (17-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) for the interim belt at Madison Square Garden. The main card airs on pay-per-view following prelims on ESPNews and ESPN+.
Although the situation isn’t ideal with less than three weeks’ notice, Aspinall thinks he can overcome any challenges and emerge with his hand raised.
“I’m fighting the scariest guy in MMA in my opinion, in the worst circumstances possible without a training camp,” Aspinall told MMA Junkie and other reporters at Wednesday’s UFC 295 media day. “I obviously think I can win. I’m not the kind of guy who shows up for money. I ain’t signing a contract and showing up if I don’t think I can win. I truly, truly believe that I’m going to win on Saturday night. I’m an absolute winner, and I’m going to find a way to win regardless of the circumstances.”
Aspinall, 30, admits he hasn’t necessarily had the time to craft and hone in the perfect game plan, but he thinks he knows what he’s dealing with in Pavlovich, who has won his past six fights by first-round knockout.
In order to give himself the best shot, Aspinall thinks he needs to relish everything and churn it into something positive.
“I think it’s heavyweight MMA,” Aspinall said. “You’ve got to see what happens. He’s a very, very dangerous guy. As am I. I’m just focused on going out there and enjoying it. The is my absolute dream come true: Madison Square Garden, Pavlovich.”
In a normal world, the winner of Aspinall vs. Pavlovich would be set up for a fight with Jones next. However, UFC CEO Dana White said that will not be the case, and the promotion instead plans to reschedule the fight with Jones and Miocic once the champ is healthy.
Some have argued that the UFC should’ve stripped Jones and made Aspinall vs. Pavlovich for the undisputed title. Aspinall said he’s not overthinking all the finer details of this whole thing, but he
“I’m fine with the interim. I’m not too bothered,” Aspinall said. “It’ll work itself out, I’m sure. Jon Jones is obviously one of the best to ever do. I’ve got a lot of respect for him and hopefully we’ll get to share the cage one day.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 295.