“I can’t even tell you, it’s been a crazy two-and-a-half weeks,” Aspinall said, having fought through a bout of tears. “Oh, my God. I just want to say to everyone at home: Listen, if you ever get the chance to do something, and you’re scared to do it, you should f***ing definitely do it, because there’s a chance it’s gonna pay off.
“He’s a big, scary guy. I’ve never been as scared in my life as fighting this guy, but I’ve got a lot of power, too. And I believe in myself, I really believe in myself. I’ve worked so hard over the years.”
In 2016, Michael Bisping knocked out Luke Rockhold to win the middleweight belt on short notice, and in 2022, Leon Edwards won the welterweight title with a knockout of Kamaru Usman.
It is as yet unclear whether Aspinall will fight Jones next, or whether the UFC will rebook Jones versus 41-year-old Miocic. In that case, Aspinall would potentially have to defend the interim belt in the meantime. However, there is also a belief that Aspinall could be elevated to regular champion in Jones’s absence.
An emotional Tom Aspinall reacts to his UFC interim title win
Aspinall vs Pavlovich in fact served as the co-main event of UFC 295, while the original co-main event was elevated and saw Alex Pereira beat Jiri Prochazka for the vacant light-heavyweight title.
Pereira, a former middleweight champion, became the ninth two-weight champion in UFC history by securing a TKO in Round 2. The Brazilian dropped his Czech opponent with a left hook before unleashing a series of elbows, before referee Marc Goddard stepped in.
Although some viewers suggested that the stoppage had come too early, Prochazka – fighting for the first time since vacating the light-heavyweight title due to injury last year – dismissed the notion. “I think in the end, it was right; I was out,” he said.
UFC 295 results in full
Alex Pereira beat Jiri Prochazka via TKO to win a UFC title in a second weight class
Alex Pereira def. Jiri Prochazka via second-round TKO (punches and elbows, 4:08)
Tom Aspinall def. Sergei Pavlovich via first-round knockout (punches, 1:09)
Jessica Andrade def. Mackenzie Dern via second-round TKO (punches, 3:15)
Benoit Saint-Denis def. Matt Frevola via first-round knockout (head kick, 1:31)
Diego Lopes def. Pat Sabatini via first-round knockout (punches, 1:30)
Steve Erceg def. Alessandro Costa via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Loopy Godinez def. Tabatha Ricci via split decision (27-30, 29-28, 29-28)
Mateusz Rebecki def. Roosevelt Roberts via first-round submission (armbar, 3:08)
Nazim Sadykhov and Viacheslav Borshchev fought to majority draw (29-28, 28-28, 28-28)
Jared Gordon def. Mark Madsen via first-round TKO (4:42)
John Castaneda def. Kyung Ho Kang via unanimous decision (30-27, 30-27, 30-27)
Joshua Van def. Kevin Borjas via unanimous decision (29-28, 29-28, 29-28)
Jamall Emmers def. Dennis Buzukja via first-round TKO (0:49)
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