I don’t quite know what it is about MSG. Maybe it’s the rich fighting heritage, maybe we just keep getting lucky. But every November without fail it delivers. And last night was absolutely no different, especially for us Brits. We saw the potential in Cage Warriors, and he’s done it. Folks, Thomas Paul Aspinall is a UFC champion.
Despite this pandemonium, it needs to be remembered that due to the injury sustained by the mercurial Jon Jones, the summit of the 265-pound division is slightly disjointed. With that in mind, I’m going to give my thoughts on what, or, more specifically, who could be next for Salford’s finest.
OPTION 1: BARE WITH BONES
Aspinall vs Jones is a matchup I have been dreaming about for many years now. I’m sure many of you are no different in that regard. And if you listen to Big Tom himself, he certainly has as well. The two most multi-talented, cerebral, and dynamic heavyweights on Planet Earth. No brainer, right? Well, it’s not that simple. The man who many consider the greatest to ever lace a pair of 4oz gloves will not step into the Octagon until next summer at the very earliest. And one of Tom’s biggest credits since his arrival in the UFC has been his activity, barring of course the aftermath of his own injury last July. It’s definitely the most compelling bout, but I do not see potentially up to a year on the sidelines for our new belt holder.
OPTION 2: A SHOWDOWN WITH STIPE
We all saw the perfectly captured shots of the former two-time UFC Heavyweight Champion Stipe Miocic watching intently from cageside as last nights co-main event played out, robbed of an opportunity to three-peat through no fault of his own. The man might be 41, but it’s obvious the desire to touch gold once more still burns bright. The question is, does that flame only flicker at the thought of facing off with Mr Jones? Because I have absolutely no doubt that Aspinall would jump at the opportunity to add such a marquee name to his resume. It’s different an interesting one stylistically. Stipe’s crafty, experienced and well-versed, but Tom’s dynamism and ferocity could be overwhelming to the Ohio native as his career reaches its twilight. I’d love to see it, but, to be honest, I would be surprised if Miocic signs on the dotted line.
OPTION 3: ANOTHER SHOT AT GOLD FOR GANE
In my eyes, this is probably our most likely result. Aspinall vs Gane in a somewhat rare Interim defense, potentially at UFC 301 in May. All cards on the table, Ciryl left a bitter taste in my mouth following his post-victory words in Paris, effectively rubbishing anything other than a fight for the title, despite being 2-2 in his last four. But, scanning the remainder of the division’s upper echelons, he really is the only option. Blaydes is coming off a loss, Volkov is rebuilding well but was thoroughly beaten by Aspinall last spring, and Almeida was somewhat lackluster in São Paulo last Saturday night. Bon Gamin’s slick measured striking and improving grappling defense does make for an interesting headline attraction if he does fight Aspinall, though, it does have to be said.
But as much as looking to the future is customary on Sunday’s following UFC pay-per-views, it’s important we value the position we find ourselves in. Because above all else, this is Aspinall’s time in the sun. So congratulations to him and his team on the latest in a long line of scintillating displays. There really is only one Tommy Aspinall.
Photo Credit: Eurosport