Tom Aspinall finds himself in no man’s land near the summit of the UFC’s heavyweight division.
The Briton, who claimed the interim heavyweight crown last year, has so far drawn a blank in his quest to unify the title — with Jon Jones determined to defend against Stipe Miocic when he returns to action from a pectoral injury. But while he now sits in some sort of combat sports purgatory awaiting the identify of his next opponent, Aspinall says that he understands why he is having trouble in arranging his next fight.
“I’m too dangerous, man,” Aspinall told Ariel Helwani during a recent episode of The MMA Hour, as noted by MMA Fighting. “Simple. I’m too risky for these guys. Who knows, one day maybe when the shoe’s on the other foot, and I’m on the back end of my career, I get put in a situation like that, I’ll do the same thing. I’m not blaming anybody.”
But while some might have forgiven Aspinall for harbouring some ill-will towards either Jones or Miocic for appearing to delay his title ambitions, Aspinall says it is difficult to hold resentment against them.
“I want to say how much respect I have for both guys,” he said. “These guys are friggin’ heroes of mine. That is part of the reason that I would love to get the opportunity to fight them. But if it’s not happening, it’s not happening. And the crying’s over.”
“They offered me Stipe, and I was like, of course,” Aspinall said of a potential fight at UFC 300. “And like one hour later, they came back and were like, ‘No, Stipe just wants to fight Jones.’ Then there were talks about Alex Pereira moving up to heavyweight. As I said, mate, I’m not the kind of guy who’s gonna start turning down fights. I’ve never turned down a fight in my life, and I’m not going to start now.
“When I started hearing rumours about that, me and Alex, we did a little bit of online flirting back and forward. But we have a couple of mutual friends, and it came to light that Alex isn’t gonna move up to heavyweight yet. I respect Alex, respect his decision. He’s a champion in his own right.
He added: “Fair play. I’m not going to push for that anymore.”