Jon Jones was supposed to fight Stipe Miocic for the UFC Heavyweight Title this weekend at UFC 295. Due to an unfortunate pectoral muscle injury, Jones pulled out of the fight on October 25. As a result, matchmakers replaced them with Pavlovich vs Aspinall, a bout that is arguably much more exciting to see.
Yes, Jones vs Stipe was going to be a historical clash but we all know that it was going to be completely one-sided. As brilliant as Miocic may be, he is 41 years old and has not fought in two years and a half. Moreover, both Aspinall and Pavlovich deserve this opportunity.
Pavlovich vs Aspinall: Road to the UFC Heavyweight Title
Get to Know Sergei Pavlovich
Few heavyweights have been as dominant as Sergei Pavlovich in recent years. Yes, there was Francis Ngannou, there was Ciryl Gane, but Sergei Pavlovich never gave his opponents a slight chance. Since his debut defeat which was unfortunate, he got six 1st round knockouts and took out fighters like Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa, and Curtis Blaydes. But where did it all begin?
According to Pavlovich's own words, he has been a fan of MMA since his early childhood. He used to buy CDs with footage of early UFC events. Although his favorite fighter never fought in the promotion, his biggest influence was Fedor Emelianenko, one of the greatest MMA fighters.
Here's the interesting part. Sergei Pavlovich has 18 wins in his career – 15 by KO/TKO and 3 via decision. We have never seen him fight on the ground but he actually started his journey in combat sports through Greco-Roman wrestling. He only switched to hand-to-hand combat after serving in the Airborne Forces.
After moving to professional MMA, he began training in Khabib Nurmagomedov's Eagles MMA team, after which he worked his way up to a UFC contract. His only defeat came in his debut against Alistair Overeem and Pavlovich later stated that he did not have time for acclimatization as his camp arrived late. The fight was in Beijing, China.
Pavlovich vs Aspinall was originally supposed to happen in 2021. Due to the ongoing pandemic and problems with his visa, Pavlovich was unable to travel to the USA.
He finally returned in March 2022 and since then has won four more times via KO/TKO. He truly deserves a title shot more than anyone else in the division, even if it is for the Interim title at UFC 295.
Get to Know Tom Aspinall
Tom Aspinall had a similar youth to Pavlovich and began training at an early age. His father was a BJJ trainer and Tom began spending time at the gym from the age of seven. Over time, he won the British national championship in this discipline and currently holds a black belt.
Everyone knows that Tom Aspinall is one of the highest heavyweights. His current height is 6 feet 5 inches or 196 centimeters. In fact, he is 5cm higher than his opponent. But it wasn't always like that.
Tom Aspinall only began to grow in height when he was 16 and in two years, grew by over 20cm. He suffered from rapid growth and had to go through physical therapy. In an old interview, he said that there were days when he couldn't even get out of bed due to all the pain.
His problems disappeared only after he gained muscle mass and we all know how impressive his physique is now.
Reaching the UFC was far more difficult for Aspinall. He has a long amateur career but he says that it was extremely hard to get consistent fights. Once he moved to pro-MMA, it did not get easier. Just like Pavlovich, he went through over two years of downtime before getting a UFC contract.
This is why Pavlovich vs Aspinall is such a great match. Both fighters had to overcome serious injuries to get here. Pavlovich went through a knee ligament injury that kept him away for over a year and Aspinall suffered one of the worst knee injuries we have seen from an actual fight.
If you remember the match against Curtis Blaydes, Aspinall injured himself in the 15th second of Round 1. He returned exactly a year later with a 1st round TKO vs. Marcin Tybura and proved that he is the real deal once again. With six early finishes in seven UFC bouts (+5 performance of the night bonuses), he truly deserves this opportunity.
Should the UFC remove the Interim Titles?
Pavlovich vs Aspinall will be a match for the UFC Heavyweight Interim Title at UFC 295. While this is an opportunity, it is also unfortunate for both fighters who truly deserve the actual championship. This means that whoever wins this bout will also have to fight once more against the champion. Currently, this is Jon Jones but he is going to be out for at least eight months. If there are complications after his surgery, this downtime could get extended. And there is also the matchmaking factor that could also extend this period.
In other words, we may see Jones get stripped from the belt, and then what? The winner between Sergei Pavlovich and Tom Aspinall will not be the real champion here and will have to fight again for the vacant belt.