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UFC 295: Tom Aspinall knocks out Sergei Pavlovich to win UFC interim heavyweight title

  • By Paul Battison
  • BBC Sport

Image supply, Getty Images

Image caption,

Aspinall turns into simply the third Briton to win a UFC title

Tom Aspinall fantastically stopped Sergei Pavlovich within the first spherical to win the interim heavyweight title at UFC 295 at Madison Square Garden in New York.

The Briton, 30, landed two fast left-right combos to end the Russian inside 69 seconds.

“If you ever get the chance to do something and you’re scared to do it, you should just do it,” Aspinall stated.

“It has been a crazy two and a half weeks.”

In victory, Aspinall turns into solely the third British UFC title holder in historical past, after Michael Bisping (middleweight) and Leon Edwards (welterweight).

In the primary occasion, Brazil’s Alex Pereira stopped the Czech Republic’s Jiri Prochazka within the second spherical to win the vacant light-heavyweight title.

Former middleweight title holder Pereira, 36, turns into a two-division champion in simply his seventh UFC combat to set the report for the shortest time to obtain the feat.

Aspinall seizes golden alternative in fashion

Video caption,

How Aspinall went from £20 within the financial institution to headlining UFC

Pavlovich, 31, was the back-up fighter for Jones’ title defence in opposition to Stipe Miocic so had been coaching for a possible opponent, whereas Aspinall stated he solely had round 10 days to practice for the bout due to journey and media commitments.

Aspinall has loved a exceptional begin to his UFC profession since debuting in 2020, ending six of his seven fights with the one blemish on his report coming in opposition to Curtis Blaydes final 12 months, wherein Aspinall sustained a critical knee harm within the opening seconds.

The Briton entered the combat with the shortest common combat time in UFC historical past (minimal of 5 fights) at one minute 36 seconds, however was dealing with a knockout artist holding the present second-shortest at two minutes 22 seconds, with Russian’s Pavlovich ending his previous six opponents within the first spherical.

Aspinall had admitted he was “scared” of Pavlovich within the pre-fight build-up, however in contrast himself to a honey badger, saying he would combat with fearless aggression as soon as the octagon door closed.

Like his manner within the pre-fight build-up, Aspinall appeared relaxed throughout his walkout, smiling and singing his entrance track, earlier than embracing his father and long-time coach Andy and coming into the octagon.

Pavlovich additionally appeared relaxed however displayed little emotion as he briskly walked out for the bout, earlier than embracing Aspinall because the referee began the bout.

Image supply, Getty Images

Image caption,

Aspinall prolonged his report to 14 wins and simply three losses in MMA

Aspinall struck first, touchdown a leg kick, earlier than Pavlovich responded, momentarily beautiful Aspinall with a proper hand.

But Aspinall recovered, utilizing his velocity to ship extra leg kicks earlier than ending the competition with two brisk left-right combos.

Following the win, Aspinall instantly collapsed to the canvas with emotion and was in tears as UFC president Dana White wrapped the title round him.

“He’s a scary guy. I’ve never been so scared in my life but I have power too and I believed in myself,” stated Aspinall.

“I’ve labored so arduous over time and nobody has labored tougher than my father so this belt is devoted to him.

“I used to be battling the gap a bit of bit however we acquired there ultimately.”

In turning into interim champion, Aspinall realises the potential many followers, together with Bisping, believed he at all times had.

In a exceptional accident, Aspinall’s win after a 17-day call-up was the identical period of time Bisping had to put together for his title win over Luke Rockhold in 2016, and Bisping was one of many first folks to embrace Aspinall as he left the octagon in tears together with his new belt.

Pereira makes UFC historical past

Image supply, Getty Images

Image caption,

Pereira turns into the ninth two-division champion in UFC historical past

The bout between Pereira and Prochazka had been billed by critics as an thrilling conflict of cultures, with Prochazka practising bushido – the ethical code adopted by Japanese samurai – and Pereira embodying the spirit of his tribal ancestors in Brazil.

Prochazka hoped to regain the belt he vacated one 12 months in the past by harm whereas Pereira was preventing for simply the second time within the division.

The pair engaged in an intense stare-down as they confronted off contained in the octagon earlier than Pereira took the early initiative within the combat, displaying his formidable leg-kicking method by dropping Prochazka.

The Czech fighter would bounce again nonetheless, taking Pereira down to safe management time on the canvas.

The fight-ending second got here within the second spherical as Pereira, showing to be damage, backed in direction of the cage.

As Prochazka closed the gap, Pereira unleashed a proper hand and a trademark left hook which dropped his opponent, earlier than the referee stepped in to finish the competition with Pereira touchdown a variety of follow-up hammer-fists.

“I’m not stunned [it was stopped] after the primary left hook, he fell to my legs and I do not assume it was a nasty stoppage,” stated Pereira.

“It’s an incredible honour for me, particularly to do that in Madison Square Garden. This means quite a bit to me and to my household.”

Pereira additionally known as out long-time foe and former middleweight champion Israel Adesanya in his post-fight interview, with a future bout in opposition to ex-light heavyweight champion Jamahal Hill additionally a chance.

Like Prochazka, Hill vacated the title he gained in January earlier this 12 months due to harm.

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