Four fights and four finishes into his UFC career, Tom Aspinall is already one of the most talked about prospects in the heavyweight division but unlike many who came before him, he’s not in a rush to get to the top of the division.
While some fighters are calling for title shots after only a few appearances inside the octagon, Aspinall has made it a point to state emphatically that he’s not looking to face the best heavyweights in the world just yet because he still needs time to develop.
At this stage in his career, the 28-year-old Team Kaobon fighter hasn’t even seen a third round yet and that’s part of the reason why he’s adamant about gaining valuable experience to ensure he’s truly ready to make a run at the UFC title one day.
“It’s kind of the gift and the curse of the heavyweight division,” Aspinall explained during an appearance on The MMA Hour. “The reason why I always talk about taking it slow and stuff like that is a lot of people get it confused and think I’m not very confident. I think it’s completely the opposite. The fact is I’m very confident in myself and my own ability. I’m just aware enough to know I need more experience to compete with these guys who have had multiple five round fights.
“None of my fights have gone past like a round and a half yet. This experience, you cannot buy this stuff. This is very valuable and I’m completely aware that I need that stuff to compete with these guys. That’s what they’ve got over me. I feel like I’ve got a lot of other stuff over them — speed, power, skill, all this kind of stuff. I feel I’ve got that over most of the guys but one thing I’ve not got, which is also very important, is the experience. I want to build that up.”
Currently the average age amongst the top five heavyweights in the UFC based on the MMA Fighting Global Rankings is 34 with Curtis Blaydes as the youngest at 30 years of age.
That’s still two years older that Aspinall, which is why he knows he’s got plenty of time to work his way up the heavyweight ladder before trying to tackle those kinds of challenges while also avoiding the pitfalls that seemingly doom some top prospects in the sport who aren’t truly ready yet.
“What’s the damn rush? What’s the rush in this thing?” Aspinall said. “I’m 28. Heavyweights go to the early 40s. I’m want to stick around. I’m not trying to be a flash in the pan. I’m not trying to be a hype job as we say in the U.K. I want to earn my way up. I want to take out these guys out and get the experience on the way and do my thing and enjoy myself and make money and improve as I’m going.
“I’m not just trying to get there cause everyone thinks I’m good and then turns out I’m not good and I have to go back to working a regular job. I don’t want to do that sh*t. I want to earn my way up and enjoy this stuff and provide for my family on the way and when I get there, I want to stay there as well.”
Aspinall isn’t putting a clock on his career but he believes by the time he’s 31 years old like current interim heavyweight champion Ciryl Gane, he’ll be competing with the best heavyweights in the sport.
For now, he’s content with the slow and steady approach to his career, which explains his choice in future opponents as he looks to take out the next guy ahead of him in the division.
“I would love to fight Blagoy Ivanov,” Aspinall said while repeating the request he made just after his win this past Saturday night. “I’ve watched him for so long. There’s a lot of good fights coming up in the heavyweight division. A lot of the top 15, they’re already tied up. They’re all fighting one another anyway so it’s probably not going to be any time soon plus I’ve got to go to the hospital tomorrow cause I’ve got a sore hand. So we’ll see what’s happening with that. I like Blagoy Ivanov. I think that’s a good fight.
“I want to deserve my shot. I’m not trying to be a hype job. I’m not trying to do that. I’m trying to fight everybody in this thing. I’m trying to beat everybody.”