Tom Aspinall is warm the idea of defending his interim UFC heavyweight title in 2024, and he has a potential opponent in mind.
Aspinall (14-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) is less than two months removed from winning interim gold with a 69-second knockout of Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295 in New York. Despite the achievement, though, Aspinall won’t be next to fight for the undisputed belt.
That distinction will go to Stipe Miocic, who is expected to challenge current titleholder Jon Jones once “Bones” returns from injury. Moreover, it’s unknown if one or both of Jones and Miocic will retire after the fight, leaving some uncertainty around Aspinall’s next move.
Aspinall has expressed frustration as he sits on the sidelines waiting for the situation to play out, but he’s made it clear a long break from competition is not of interest. He wants to fight sooner than later, and he sees the winner of the matchup between Curtis Blaydes (17-4 MMA, 12-4 UFC) and Jailton Almeida (19-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) at UFC 299 on March 9 in Miami as a fitting foe (via X):
Winner of blaydes almeida sounds good https://t.co/Je8R6YtfRI
— Tom Aspinall (@AspinallMMA) December 31, 2023
Aspinall, No. 3 in the latest USA TODAY Sports/MMA Junkie heavyweight rankings, has a history with No. 7-ranked Blaydes. The pair fought at UFC Fight Night 208 in July 2022, with the main event bout ending in just 15 seconds after Aspinall went down with a knee injury that ultimately required surgery and forced him out of competition for a year.
A rematch would certainly be logical if Blaydes wins, but he’ll have to first get past No. 12-ranked Almeida, who was MMA Junkie’s 2023 Breakout Fighter of the Year after picking up victories over Derrick Lewis, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Shamil Abdurakhimov.
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 299.