I'm ready to shock the world, insists Tom Aspinall ahead of UFC title shot

Tom Aspinall is aiming to follow the Michael Bisping path to UFC glory after being handed a shock shot at the heavyweight title.
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The 30-year-old from Atherton - who has coached Jiu Jitsu at Elite Fitness Factory in Wigan, the gym owned by his Team Kaobon mate Mike Grundy - only returned in July from a year out with a serious knee injury.

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But fortune has this time been on his side, with heavyweight champion Jon Jones facing a similar lay-off after tearing a pectoral tendon off the bone preparing for his defence against Stipe Miocic in New York City on November 11.

Tom Aspinall has been given a shock last-minute shot at the UFC world heavyweight titleTom Aspinall has been given a shock last-minute shot at the UFC world heavyweight title
Tom Aspinall has been given a shock last-minute shot at the UFC world heavyweight title
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With Miocic reportedly not wanting to take a fight against scheduled back-up Sergei Pavlovich at such short notice, Aspinall was asked whether he would be up for a crack at the interim heavyweight title.

The conversation didn't last long.

“I’m like: ‘I’m in,’” Aspinall said. “No contracts talk. I’m not asking for more money. I’m not asking for more time. I’m in. This is my chance.”

Despite facing a man he’s labelled 'the most dangerous man in the UFC' in Pavlovich - who has been in training for several weeks - Aspinall is not short of belief.

“I think I can beat him,” he said. “I’m hungry to get the heavyweight title.

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“There’s a lot of people who give it the big time in the media, and they’re dodging fights left and right.

“Look at Stipe...Stipe didn’t want this fight...and he’s the greatest heavyweight of all time.

"There’s plenty of other people dodging Pavlovich, as well, and I’m stepping up...I’m doing stuff no-one else will dare to do.”

He also dismissed the idea he will be at a significant disadvantage in terms of preparation.

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“I’ve not been on holiday,” he said. “I always stay in the gym.

"Obviously, if I knew I had a world title fight coming up, I would be in better shape than I am right now.

"But I’m not making any excuses. I’m a professional fighter. I should be ready at any time, which I am.”

And Aspinall need look no further for inspiration than fellow native of the north west and close pal Bisping, who took on a title fight at exactly the same notice back in, and shocked the world by toppling Luke Rockhold in 2016.

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“What about my guy, Michael Bisping?” Aspinall added on the 'MMA Hour'. “Two-and-a-half weeks' notice to the day, Mike Bisping went in there and took it from Rockhold.

"Exactly the same day as I got the fight. That’s something to talk about, isn’t it...two UK guys!

"Mike’s my really, really close friend as well. He’s my mentor.

“He taught me to believe in myself, and he told me it’s not about two-and-a-half weeks.

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"It’s about the last 10-15 years of your life you’ve been putting in...the time scale is irrelevant.

"I’ve been putting the hard miles in...years before anyone believed in me.

“There was a time when me and my father used to train together, just doing it in my dad’s garage.

"So many years, I’ve been traveling...I used to go to Liverpool - which is really far from my house - for years.

"I couldn’t even afford to put petrol in the car...I’ve put in some serious hard yards and sacrifice into this sport.”

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