Tom Aspinall says UFC 304 start time is ‘absolutely terrible’

Aspinall is expected to fight at the Manchester event, the main card of which is scheduled for 3am BST

Alex Pattle
Combat Sports Correspondent
Tuesday 30 April 2024 16:44 BST
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Tom Aspinall has said the planned UFC 304 start time is “absolutely terrible” for fans, with the Manchester event due to begin at 11pm local time and finish at 6am.

The UFC announced its return to the UK last week, with a pay-per-view at the new Co-op Live arena on 27 July, but fans’ excitement was quickly overshadowed by disappointment over the timings for the event.

The promotion currently plans for the UFC 304 prelims to begin at 11pm BST, with the main card following at 3am. The times cater for a US audience, at the expense of those in the arena. The timings will also potentially affect fighters, with Aspinall expected to feature in the main or co-main event.

“Well, as an athlete, as a fighter, in all honesty it doesn’t make that much difference,” said Aspinall, who holds the interim heavyweight title, on his YouTube channel on Monday (29 April).

“Probably for a couple of weeks before, I’ll have to wake up and train at that time – or stay up or whatever. I’ve flown across the world multiple times and fought on different time zones, so it’s not as bad as that.

“As a fan who wants to watch it live, I think it is absolutely terrible. I think... yeah, it’s just not fair on the fans, not fair on the UK fans.

“Obviously, predominantly, it’s an American audience, so I understand that they want to sell to them. But why can’t they sell to them in the afternoon, which is our evening time? Why can’t the Americans watch it in the afternoon? And the UK fans, the Manchester fans, the European fans can all fly to this event [and] sell out this new arena.

“I mean, it’s going to sell out regardless, mate. We’re very, very, very, very lucky to have a pay-per-view event in Manchester. Very lucky. But UK MMA... let’s put it on UK time.”

Aspinall, 31, is expected to defend the interim heavyweight title at UFC 304, potentially against Curtis Blaydes. Aspinall’s sole loss in the UFC came in 2022, when the Wigan fighter suffered an injury in the opening seconds of a bout with Blaydes.

Welterweight champion Leon Edwards is also rumoured to fight at UFC 304, defending his belt against Belal Muhammad. The Jamaican-born Briton fought Muhammad to a No Contest in 2021.

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