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Tom Aspinall
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Tom Aspinall targets Jon Jones clash after Pavlovich win

British fighter Tom Aspinall landed a stunning first-round victory over Sergei Pavlovich at Madison Square Garden, New York, on Saturday to claim the interim heavyweight title at UFC 295.

The 30-year-old registered the win in just 69 seconds thanks to two rapid-fire combinations, becoming only the third British UFC title holder after middleweight Michael Bisping and the current welterweight champion Leon Edwards.

Even more impressive was the fact that the Wigan man only took the fight on 17 days' notice after Jon Jones pulled out of his clash with Stipe Miocic due to injury.

Since making his UFC debut in 2020, Aspinall has enjoyed a meteoric rise, finishing six of his seven fights - the exception in that run coming in last year's clash with Curtis Blaydes in which he sustained a serious knee injury.

That injury kept Aspinall sidelined until July this year when he made a winning return against Marcin Tybura in London.

After being awarded with the title by UFC president Dana White, Aspinall reflected on the victory.

Regarding his opponent Pavlovich, he said: "He's a scary guy. I've never been so scared in my life but I have power too and I believed in myself.

"I've worked so hard over the years and no one has worked harder than my father so this belt is dedicated to him.

"I was struggling with the distance a little bit but we got there in the end."

Legend Jones is next on the list for improving Briton

Aspinall's triumph over Pavlovich will go down as one of the most significant nights in British MMA history and his taking down of the Russian knockout specialist showed the Briton is realising his full potential in UFC.

In his pre-fight build-up and walkout, Aspinall cut a calm and collected figure and he took no time at all to stop Pavlovich, responding to a right hand from his opponent with two vicious left-right combinations.

After an emotional Aspinall collapsed to the canvas, he was soon quick to consider his next options, with a meeting with Jones top of his wishlist.

After the fight, Aspinall said: "Thank you Jon [Jones] and just give me the opportunity - give me my dream fight.

"I've just achieved my dream so give me my dream fight, let me fight for my legacy please.

"I think we should do Tom Aspinall vs Jon Jones in Manchester. That is something special and I'm sure that UFC will be on board with that.

Jones is a legend in the UFC, having held the heavyweight and light-heavyweight titles in his career, while he has won 27 of his 29 fights in mixed martial arts.

He had been due to face Miocic at UFC 295, only for the fight to be called off following the shoulder injury which opened the door for Aspinall to claim the interim heavyweight title.

Travel and media commitments meant Aspinall only had around ten days to properly train for the Pavlovich tussle and the Briton, who went into Saturday's fight with the shortest average fight time in UFC history at one minute 36 seconds, is building a serious UFC legacy.

The chance to cement his heavyweight status beckons and Aspinall could take on Jones as early as next summer, depending on the health of his potential opponent.

Before any potential Aspinall-Jones clash, it's the turn of Britain's other reigning champion, Edwards, to step back into the Octagon when he takes on Colby Covington at UFC 296.

Edwards is 4/5 to defeat 1/1 shot Covington at UFC 296, which will take place at Las Vegas's T-Mobile Arena on December 16th.

Pereira claims light-heavyweight title at expense of Prochazka

Elsewhere on the UFC 295 card, Brazil's Alex Pereira became a two-division champion after beating Jiri Prochazka of the Czech Republic in the second round in New York.

Pereira and Prochazka engaged in an intense stare-down before the fight began and that bad blood soon spilled over into the Octagon.

The Brazilian began on the front foot, dropping Prochazka, and in the second round he saw the match out with a right hand and a trademark left hook, prompting the referee to step in and end the fight.

Prochazka had vacated the belt just one year ago due to injury but came unstuck against Pereira, who was making only his second appearance in the division.

After the fight, Pereira said: "I'm not surprised [that it was stopped] after the first left hook, he fell to my legs and I don't think it was a bad stoppage.

Among Pereira's next potential opponents are former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya, who he called out in his interview after the Prochazka fight, and former light-heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill.

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