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UFC 304 odds: Tom Aspinall 2/5 to beat Curtis Blaydes at UFC 304 in Manchester this summer

Tom Aspinall will defend his interim UFC heavyweight title when facing Curtis Blaydes in the co-main event of UFC 304 in Manchester on 27th July, with the Englishman priced up at 2/5 to win.

Has the interim UFC heavyweight title ever been defended?

It will be only the third time in UFC heavyweight history that the interim title has been defended, following Jon Jones' lengthy recovery from a pectoral injury suffered late last year.

Champion Jones was due to fight former champion Stipe Miocic in November 2023, but an injury suffered in training in October sidelined him for around 12 months.

Andrei Arlovski was the first interim heavyweight champion to defend the title when Frank Mir suffered a double leg break in a motorcycle accident, beating Tim Sylvia for the interim belt at UFC 51, defending the title at UFC 53 before being promoted to undisputed champion when Mir's recovery took longer than planned.

The second time was when Randy Couture, then champion, left the UFC over a contract dispute, with Antonio Nogueira taking the interim title. Brock Lesnar's desire to fight the returning Couture for the title saw Lesner take the title, with Nogueira unsuccessfully defending the interim title to Mir (who then lost the unification fight to Lesnar).

Jones is still pursuing a fight with Stipe Miocic, giving Aspinall the opportunity to avenge the only defeat on his record, though it's worth noting UFC 304 will mark 511 days since Jones's last fight - the same amount of time between Conor McGregor winning the UFC lightweight title and being stripped of it due to inactivity.

With Blaydes and Aspinall vying for a title shot, the pair met in July 2022. Aspinall suffered a serious knee injury just seconds into the fight, keeping him out of action for 12 months and handing him his first defeat in the UFC.

Blaydes, meanwhile, lost his next fight with Sergei Pavlovich before beating Jailton Almeida at UFC 299, and may only be one fight away from a career-defining bout with Jones.

A win for Aspinall likely leaves him on the brink of a unifying title fight with either Jones or Miocic. Jones looks set to defend his title against Miocic with Aspinall waiting in the wings - as happened with Lesnar, when the UFC opted to make the superfight between Lesnar and Couture rather than interim champion Nogueira and Lesnar.

But regardless of who wins between Jones and Miocic, Aspinall should be next in line as opposed to defending his interim title twice, with that fight ideally happening in spring 2025.

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