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MMA Junkie’s 2023 Comeback Fighter of the Year: Tom Aspinall

Tom Aspinall entered 2023 in the midst of uncertainty and recovery and left with UFC gold.

The most recent in-cage memory for fight fans as they flipped the calendar over from 2022 was Aspinall (14-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) rolling around on the ground, holding his knee after an errant step blew out his MCL and meniscus, and damaged his ACL against Curtis Blaydes.

It took Aspinall 12 months to step back into the cage. When it came time to make his return in July, he did so in the same arena as the accident – one day and one year to the date of his injury.

Aspinall quickly shook away the ghost of the past performance as he quickly smashed Marcin Tybura with punches and finished the fight 73 seconds after it started.

The win propelled Aspinall into contention, and realigned him on his upward trajectory. In November, Aspinall was a beneficiary of Jon Jones’ misfortune when he stepped into an interim heavyweight title fight on just a few weeks’ notice.

With the elements seemingly working against him at UFC 295, Aspinall toppled Sergei Pavlovich in 69 seconds – the second quickest finish of his promotional tenure. He now enters 2024 with a gold belt and a potential unification bout down the line.

That’s why Tom Aspinall is MMA Junkie’s 2023 Comeback Fighter of the Year.

Story originally appeared on MMA Junkie