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NP featured Aspinall

WATCHING six-foot-five, 260lb Tom Aspinall writhe around on the canvas of the Octagon in agony this time last year it was hard to imagine when or even if he would ever return to the UFC.  

However, just 364 days later and having fully recovered from career-saving knee surgery, the 30-year-old heavyweight aims to put the worst 15 seconds of his career behind him and continue his push for UFC gold.   

Poland’s Marcin Tybura will stand opposite him inside the cage at London’s O2 arena on Saturday night, most likely representing the penultimate opponent in Aspinall’s drive for the heavyweight championship.  

It seems ludicrous to suggest last year’s blown out knee, which occurred when the man from Atherton in Greater Manchester kicked opponent Curtis Blaydes to the torso, could be the catalyst to a revised title assault.   

But that’s exactly the case.  


 Firstly, the enforced recovery time allowed the 30-year-old and his head coach and father Andy time to overhaul Aspinall’s training setup.  

 They built their own gym, invited the biggest and heaviest fighters from across the UK to train under one roof, and subsequently formed a monster-mash super-gym to suit Tom’s needs. 

 Secondly, the injury was a stark reminder of what the 12-3 black belt turned elite striker could have lost. It’s lit a fire inside him. 

Aspinall is no longer content to be patient in his approach to becoming UFC champion, he’s now aggressively going after what he believes is his destiny.  

Jon ‘Bones’ Jones is not only the current heavyweight kingpin, but also acknowledged by most as the Greatest Of All Time (GOAT) in MMA. And Aspinall what’s to take his shot before ‘Bones’ retires.  

“I have to make a lot of noise and put in big performances to attract the attentions of Jon Jones,” Aspinall tells TNT Sports. “I want to fight him before he walks away from the sport, but to make that happen I have to get on his radar. 

 I am expecting a huge performance against Marcin this weekend, then I want to go to New York in November and go after Jones (who defends the belt against Stipe Miocic at Madison Square Garden).” 


However, Tybura, 37, is a veteran of the sport and no stranger to going into enemy territory and causing upsets. With 15 finishes in 24 wins, he’s also won seven of his last eight fights and has the quiet aura of a big man with a real plan. 

 Yet Aspinall is a generational athlete. His speed is like nothing the heavyweight division has ever seen resulting in his first five fights in the UFC ending early – only grizzled former champ Andrei Arlovski made it into round two. 

 In fact, in 15 professional fights, Aspinall has never needed the opinions of the judges and whilst Tybura has seen most things in MMA in his 12-year career, he’s not shared a cage with anyone as athletic, devastating and calculated as Aspinall. 



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