‘Jon Jones is holding s**t up’ – Tom Aspinall now seeking 'payback' against Curtis Blaydes

Tom Aspinall has become interim world heavyweight champion since blowing out a knee against Curtis Blaydes - now he wants 'payback'Tom Aspinall has become interim world heavyweight champion since blowing out a knee against Curtis Blaydes - now he wants 'payback'
Tom Aspinall has become interim world heavyweight champion since blowing out a knee against Curtis Blaydes - now he wants 'payback'
Tom Aspinall admits he's very, very motivated' at the prospect of 'a little bit of payback' after his headline fight against Curtis Blaydes was confirmed for UFC 204 in Manchester.

It's almost two years since the pair locked horns at London's O2 Arena, only for Atherton-born Aspinall - who regularly trains at Robin Park - to blow out a knee inside 15 seconds.

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After spending 12 months on the sidelines getting back up to speed, Aspinall wasted no time in regaining his place at the top of the UFC.

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Indeed, last November he became the interim world heavyweight champion by knocking out Sergei Pavlovich in the opening round of their contest at Madison Square Garden.

Aspinall had stepped in at a week's notice after champion Jon Jones sustained a serious pectoral injury while training for his fight against Stipe Miocic.

Since then, Aspinall has campaigned almost non-stop for a shot at Jones when he's fit again, only for his pleas to fall on deaf ears.

And having been inactive for the last six months, he's jumped at the chance to step back into the octagon with Blaydes on Saturday, July 27 at the new Co-op Live - and an opportunity to right a huge wrong.

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"So the fight's finally been announced, and I'm very, very happy about it," he said in a video message on his YouTube channel. "Of course I am...I've got a fight in the pipeline.

"I'm an MMA fighter, and I love fighting...the last thing I want to do is hold up the division.

"I see the comments...people out there saying I'm holding the division up...but that's not me. That's someone else, at the top.

"I am here to fight people. and I love this stuff. This is what I was born to do, what I've wanted to do since the year started.

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"Ever since the last fight against Pavlovich, I've wanted to get back in there, and my opportunity is coming at UFC 304...a rematch with Curtis Blaydes, in my hometown of Manchester.

"It's going to be fantastic...July 27...be there!"

Aspinall then opened up on his frustration at having to bide his time before cementing his spot at the top of the heavyweight division.

"I wasn't really offered any fights to be honest...they wanted to keep me for Manchester, and I understand that," he said. "I wanted to fight, I was asking for fights, but the UFC wanted to keep me for Manchester.

"I want to be as active as possible...I'm not in my prime yet, but I am healthy, and everything is good and I want to fight people.

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"I'm looking for fights all the time, but it's not always as easy as looking for a fight and you'll get it.

"There's a bit of a conundrum with my division because, usually when the champion is coming back, the interim would obviously usually fight the champ.

"Jon Jones is holding s**t up, let's be honest, he's playing games, so it's me and Curtis Blaydes.

"Curtis Blaydes, though, we have history, we fought before...granted it was only 15 seconds, it wasn't actually a fight.

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"I got injured, Curtis takes the win, but now it's time to take a little bit of payback.

"So I'm very, very, very motivated for this one...if I'm not going to fight Jon Jones - and that's not going to happen right now - this is the ideal situation.

"I'm very, very happy, very, very motivated, and I'm going to put absolutely everything into the training camp, absolutely everything into the lifestyle, and I'm looking forward to it very much."

Aspinall's close friend - and fellow Wiganer - Muhammad Mokaev will continue his quest for a flyweight title shot when he takes on Portugal's Manel Kape.

UFC 304:

Tom Aspinall vs. Curtis Blaydes (interim heavyweight title)

Leon Edwards vs. Belal Muhammad (for welterweight title)

Bobby Green vs. Paddy Pimblett

Manel Kape vs. Muhammad Mokaev

Arnold Allen vs. Giga Chikadze

Daniel Pineda vs. Nathaniel Wood

Shauna Bannon vs. Ravena Oliveira

Bruna Brasil vs. Molly McCann

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