Skip to main content

Interim UFC heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall isn’t a fan of the announced start time for the UFC’s return to Manchester this summer.

It was confirmed last week following weeks of speculation that the organisation is to hold a numbered pay-per-view event, UFC 304, at the new Co-Op Live arena in Manchester on July 27. However, this news was somewhat overshadowed by the start time for the event: the first prelim begins shortly after 11pm, with the main card to begin at 3am, meaning that fans will face a long wait for the event to begin.

And while the decision was made to ensure that the UFC’s US-based audience can view the fight card as normal, Aspinall believes that it is asking a lot of the UK market.

“Well, as an athlete, as a fighter, in all honesty, it doesn’t make that much difference — probably for a couple of weeks before I’ll have to wake up and train at that time, or stay up, or whatever,” the Briton said in a Q&A posted to his YouTube channel, as noted by MMA Fighting. ““I’ve flown across the world multiple times and fought on different time zones, so it’s not as bad as that.

“As a fan who wants to watch it live, I think it is absolutely terrible. I think, yeah, it’s just not fair on the fans, not fair on the UK fans.”

Aspinall, who is strongly linked to fighting on the card in defence of his interim crown, added: “Obviously, it’s predominantly an American audience, so I understand that they want to sell to them.

“But why can’t they sell to them in the afternoon, which is our evening time? Why can’t the Americans watch it in the afternoon? And the UK fans, the Manchester fans, the European fans, can all fly to this event, sell out this new arena. I mean, it’s going to sell out regardless, mate. We’re very, very, very, very lucky to have a pay-per-view event in Manchester. Very lucky. But UK MMA, let’s put it on UK time.”

Aspinall has been linked to a rematch with heavyweight contender Curtis Blaydes on the card, while reigning welterweight champion Leon Edwards is also expected to compete — potentially also in a rematch against Belal Muhammad. Further details are expected in the coming weeks.