As announced earlier today from UFC boss, Dana White, Jon Jones vs Stipe Miocic will no longer be happening at UFC 295. Instead, Alex Pereira and Jiri Prochazka’s light heavyweight title fight will serve as the main event and now, we have a new co-main event.
England’s Tom Aspinall and Russian, Sergei Pavlovich will compete across five-rounds for the interim heavyweight title.
Let’s take a look at some early predictions as to how the fight could play out.
Don’t Expect 25 Minutes
Although this one is scheduled for five, five minute rounds, expect the judges to have a night off, in the co-main event at least.
Across a combined 35 fights, the final bell has only been heard three times, all for Pavlovich. Aspinall has a record of 13-3, notching nine knockouts and four submissions. Pavlovich has recorded 15 knockouts and went to the judges last in 2017.
In the UFC, they have a combined record of 12-2, with Aspinall’s only loss coming due to an injury sustained against Curtis Blaydes and Pavlovich’s coming on his promotional debut against Alistar Overeem.
Further, every single one of the Russian’s 15 knockouts has come in the first round, with the latest coming just 4:03. Aspinall has seen a second round just once across his wins, finishing things at 1:09 of round two against Andrei Arlovski.
Expect each man to make a fast start in this one. The crowd in Madison Square Garden will hype both men up and they’ll be raring to go.
Power vs. Speed
There’s little denying that Sergi Pavlovich has insane power in his hands. Whenever he touches opponents, it seems to shock them just how hard they’ve been hit. His jab constantly rocked Blaydes when they fought back in April. Everything is tight, throw with terrible intentions and with a end goal of separating his opponents from consciousness.
For Aspinall, his game focusses on speed and elite footwork. His constant in and out movement makes it hard for his opponents to make reads on him and more often than not allows him to land his shots at an unprotected opponent. His finish of Marcin Tybura was a thing of beauty. He landed a step-in elbow, rocking Tybura and forcing the stoppage soon afterwards. It was his speed in and out that allowed him to land this shot, which could pay dividends in this one.
First of Many
This fight highlights a changing of the guard at heavyweight and a new era in a division that hasn’t seen fresh blood for a long time at the top.
It’s even more fitting that it is essentially replacing Jones vs Miocic on the card, two of the older guys in the division.
Aspinall and Blaydes, for heavyweights are not old, 30 and 31 respectively. We have names such as Jailton Almeida, Martin Buday and Shamil Gaziev coming through as well and the new age of the heavyweight division is exciting.
This fight between Aspinall and Pavlovich could very well be the first of a long time rivalry at the top of the UFC’s heavyweight division.