For a long time, Tom Aspinall looked to be one of the toughest hard-luck stories in the UFC.
With a perfect UFC record of 5-0, only getting out of the first round once and winning four Performance of the Night bonuses, Aspinall returned to London to headline once again, this time against Curtis Blaydes, knowing that a win would get him into the title picture.
But just seconds into the fight, Aspinall suffered a devastating knee injury that didn’t just end his winning streak, but threatened to derail his career.
364 days later, Aspinall returned to the Octagon, back in London, to fight Marcin Tybura. Aspinall, like he’d never been away, would record another first-round knockout.
His next fight would likely have been against the winner of Ciryl Gane and Sergey Spivac (which Gane won with a second-round TKO) or Sergei Pavlovich, where he would then hope to fight the winner of Jon Jones and Stipe Miocic to for the UFC heavyweight title.
But a classic hard-luck story may have a fairytale ending for Aspinall. With Jones out for the best part of a year with injury, Aspinall has been shoehorned into an interim title fight with Pavlovich at UFC 295.
Making his debut during the pandemic in Abu Dhabi, Aspinall fought Jake Collier on a preliminary card in July 2020. Not only would Aspinall win, but he’d receive the $50,000 Performance of the Night bonus, a moment he described as ‘life-changing’.
From there, Aspinall would go on a tear, all the while battling a knee injury that would jeopardise his future in the sport. No sooner had the fight with Blaydes started than Aspinall’s knee went, keeping him out of action for a year, with Aspinall admitting the injury caused him to contemplate giving MMA up.
Aspinall spoke to Adam Catterall about his rise through the UFC ranks to the darkness of his year out with injury and comeback to the brink of a UFC title.