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The Independent UK
The Independent UK
Alex Pattle

Tom Aspinall makes case against interim title defence amid talk of Alex Pereira fight


Tom Aspinall has played down the suggestion that he should defend the interim UFC heavyweight title, with a source telling The Independent that no contact has been made over a fight between the Briton and Alex Pereira at UFC 300.

The historic event, scheduled for 13 April, is still without a headline bout, and very few of the company’s biggest stars seem to be available for the landmark event – with the exception of Aspinall and light-heavyweight champion Pereira. As a result, many fans have called for Aspinall to defend his interim belt against the Brazilian.

Yet Aspinall has now made a case against defending the interim title, and Pereira suggested last week that he would need more time to prepare for a heavyweight fight, having only debuted at light-heavyweight in July after a middleweight run that led to the title in 2022. Furthermore, a source told The Independent on Friday (5 January) that the UFC has not made contact over a bout between the Briton, 30, and the Brazilian, 36.

Aspinall became interim heavyweight champion by knocking out Sergei Pavlovich in November, after Jon Jones’s planned title defence against Stipe Miocic fell through when the former suffered an injury. Aspinall’s victory appeared to set him up for an undisputed title fight with Jones, but the UFC seems intent on rebooking Jones vs Miocic later this year.

“Surely if you’re interim champ, your next fight should be to fight for undisputed? Come on,” Aspinall tweeted on Thursday (4 January). “Stipe is one of my favourites. Loads of respect to him, his Résumé is far superior to mine [right now]. That being said, the UFC has never been about this. It’s about who’s the best right now, and I believe that’s me and it’s only right I get to prove it #freeaspinall.

“Since stipe last won a fight (Aug ‘20), I have blown my knee out, went thru the rehab process and had a year off, also had 7 UFC fights, including 4 wins vs top 10 ranked opponents and won the interim title on 2 weeks notice.

“Absolutely, Stipe has a great Resume and is a legend in his own right. So has Tony [Ferguson]. Maybe we should give him a shot at the undisputed title next too?” Ferguson is a former interim lightweight champion, who has lost his last seven fights, while Miocic is a former two-time heavyweight champion, who has not fought since March 2021.

Miocic, 41, was knocked out by Francis Ngannou on that occasion, losing the heavyweight title for the second time. However, the American is widely deemed the greatest heavyweight in UFC history, while Jones is a former two-time light-heavyweight champion and the consensus best fighter in the history of that division.

Pereira won the light-heavyweight belt by stopping Jiri Prochazka on the same night as Aspinall’s title win, having previously held middleweight gold from November 2022 until April 2023.

Alex Pereira’s win over Jiri Prochazka saw him become a two-weight UFC champion in record time
— (Getty Images)

He told The Mac Life in December: “I fought at middleweight, and I had to reset my body to go up to fight at light-heavyweight. I’m a fighter; I’ll fight anybody anywhere. I have the height and the size of a heavyweight, but this is a thing that’s got to be programmed, [I’ve got to] put some work in.

“It’s not just something I can jump into. I want to do things the right way. I can definitely fight at heavyweight, maybe some day in the future, but it’s got to be something that’s well planned. So, right now I’m focused on my light-heavyweight reign.”

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