Tom Aspinall is not happy with the way the UFC heavyweight division is being managed.
Aspinall strongly thinks Jon Jones should’ve been stripped of his UFC heavyweight title, as he recovers from a pectoral tear, and his 69-second knockout of Sergei Pavlovich this past Saturday at UFC 295 in New York should’ve been for the vacant belt.
Instead, Aspinall (14-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) fought for and won the interim belt by knocking out Pavlovich. Instead of a unification bout next, the UFC is planning on Jones having defend his belt against Stipe Miocic in 2024.
Aspinall doesn’t think this is how things should play out, and is calling for the promotion to strip Jones (27-1 MMA, 21-1 UFC) from the belt.
“I think Jon Jones should be stripped from the title to be honest, because everyone else does when they get injured like that,” Aspinall told Michael Bisping. “I don’t see why he’s still got it. I don’t understand that. I think I should be the real champion right now.
“It’s hard to say without sounding rude, but who’s asked about Jon Jones and Stipe anymore? Why do we get this legacy fight, and they get to live by their own rules? What’s a legacy fight, a retirement fight for a title? I want to fight Stipe and then I want to fight Jon Jones. … I think all this other stuff is rubbish. Stop protecting him now. Stop protecting your boy Jon Jones at the top. If he’s injured, get out of the way and I’ll fight Stipe.”
Jones vs. Miocic was supposed to go down in the main event of UFC 295. However, due to Jones’ injury, the fight was cancelled with hopes of rebooking it in a later date. That’s when the promotion booked a last-minute bout between Aspinall and Pavlovich for the interim belt.
Miocic claims the UFC never gave him the option to fight for the interim title.
Aspinall thinks the right solution to this situation is for him to defend his belt against Miocic, and if successful, then welcome Jones back to competition. The Brit thinks there’s no interest from the fan base in a Jones vs. Miocic fight.
“That fight is completely dead in the water now,” Aspinall said. “You have a new champion at the weight, which is me. You got Stipe, who by the time Jon Jones comes back will have fought once in four years, and he’s 42 years old, and he’s got one fight where he got knocked out, and now he’s going to fight Jones, who’s coming off a big injury and again had one fight in three years.
“Again, who’s going to be bothered by that fight in a years time? Let’s move on. I’m the champion now. I’ll fight Stipe, he’s available. Me and Stipe will fight, and then when I beat Stipe, I’ll fight Jon Jones.”