Jon Jones hits back at Tom Aspinall over UFC heavyweight title dispute

Interim champion Aspinall called for Jones to be stripped of the regular title, before clarifying his stance

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Tuesday 05 December 2023 22:23 GMT
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Jon Jones has hit out at Tom Aspinall, after the Briton called for the UFC to strip the American of the heavyweight title.

Aspinall won the interim heavyweight belt by knocking out Sergei Pavlovich in November, after Jones’s title defence against Stipe Miocic fell through when Jones suffered an injury.

The interim champion would typically challenge the regular champion next, but the UFC has expressed a desire to reorganise Jones vs Miocic – despite expectations that Jones will be out of action until autumn 2024.

As a result, Aspinall called for the UFC to strip Jones of the heavyweight title that he won in March, suggesting that such a move would allow the division to move forward. Jones, however, has taken issue with the Briton’s words, and Aspinall has clarified his stance.

“I’ve faced the absolute toughest competition this world had to offer for 15 years now,” Jones wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on Monday (4 December). “During camp for a title defense I sustained a major injury that required surgery for the first time in my career.

“Now I have newcomers requesting I get my championship stripped. Zero wins over legends, zero title defenses and already thinking you can call the shots to Dana [White, UFC president], that’s hilarious. In my 15 year career I have seen so many guys who are supposed to be the next big thing. There’s ever only been one Jon Jones, never forget that.”

Aspinall then tweeted, “You’re right. Sorry Jon,” before The Sun released an interview in which the interim champion said: “I said in previous interviews that I think Jon Jones should get stripped. I actually worded it wrong, and I don’t think he should get stripped, because I think Jon Jones has done so much for the sport as it is that I think he maybe deserves [to keep the belt].

An emotional Aspinall reacts to his UFC interim title win

“I think he should potentially vacate, but at the same time, who am I to tell Jon Jones what to do? If I come out and say, ‘I think he should vacate’, he’s definitely not going to vacate, because I’ve said it. He’s probably gonna do the opposite. [But] I think that if it gets up to a year, though, or something like that, [he should].

“We’re talking about a guy with a lot of miles on the clock. The guy is definitely not fresh as an athlete. This thing is going to take a while; I know a few people who have torn their pec and stuff. It’s no joke that injury, mate. I know they’re saying eight to 10 months before he can train; that translates to way north of a year until he can actually compete again.”

Jones, 36, won the vacant heavyweight title by submitting Ciryl Gane in Round 1 in March, three years after his previous fight. “Bones” previously reigned as light-heavyweight champion twice and is regarded as the UFC’s greatest 205lbs fighter ever.

Aspinall, 30, then became the interim champion by knocking out Pavlovich in Round 1 in November, becoming his nation’s third UFC champion in the process.

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