Tom Aspinall details run-in with Jon Jones: ‘I’m not going to cause more beef’

Aspinall holds the interim UFC heavyweight title, while the injured Jones holds the regular belt

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Wednesday 20 March 2024 16:32 GMT
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Tom Aspinall has opened up on his run-in with Jon Jones this week, after the heavyweight champions were filmed in an awkward exchange at a sports festival in the UK.

American Jones, who holds the UFC heavyweight title, and Manchester’s Aspinall, who is interim champion, came face to face in Birmingham last weekend. After greeting Jones, Aspinall placed his hand on the light-heavyweight great’s shoulder, with Jones quickly removing it and declining a face-off photo with the Briton.

“We were at the same event, so obviously it makes sense for me,” Aspinall told JN Media this week. “We’ve got the interim champion and the undisputed champion at the same event.

“But it’s a bit weird that there’s an undisputed champion and an interim champion, because undisputed means no one can dispute it, but if there’s another champion, I don’t know... It’s a little bit weird the way it works.

“[The interaction with Jones] was good, we had a little chat, it was all good. I think he thought I was putting a hand on his shoulder [to be] disrespectful, but I wasn’t. I wasn’t there to be disrespectful, I was doing it in a friendly way. I’m not going to cause more beef.

“I’m trying to fight the guy and take his belt, that’s what I want. I have no beef against the guy. To me, it’s just friendly, nothing crazy.”

Jones, 36, won the UFC heavyweight title by submitting Ciryl Gane in March 2023, before Aspinall claimed the interim belt by knocking out Sergei Pavlovich in November. Aspinall vs Pavlovich was booked after Jones’s title defence against Stipe Miocic was cancelled, when “Bones” sustained an injury on short notice.

Aspinall ahead of his first-round knockout of Sergei Pavlovich (Frank Franklin II/AP) (AP)

UFC president Dana White insisted that the promotion would reschedule Jones vs Miocic for 2024, leaving Aspinall out in the cold. There is now the possibility of the interim champion making a title defence – a rarity in the UFC – and Aspinall, 30, has named Curtis Blaydes as a potential opponent.

“I don’t think [Jones] is going to fight me anyway,” Aspinall said. “I’d be very, very surprised if me and Jon Jones ever stepped in the Octagon together. I’m trying to get the fight, but I’m not trying to get it realistically. I’m trying to have a bit of fun and see what he’s all about.

“Curtis Blaydes it is then. I’m easy, I’m the easiest person ever to entice into a fight. I’ve never turned one down yet, so anything that’s stopping me from fighting right now is not down to me – it’s down to the UFC. So, I’m just waiting for the UFC to let me know who and when and I’ll be ready.”

Aspinall suffered a knee injury just 15 seconds into a fight with Blaydes in July 2022. Since then, Aspinall has knocked out Marcin Tybura and Pavlovich, while Blaydes has gone 1-1. The American was knocked out by Pavlovich last April but bounced back by stopping Jailton Almeida this month.

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