‘I’m not the best striker, wrestler or jiu-jitsu guy but I am the best at mixing it up’: Tom Aspinall backs lethal blend of skills to elevate him to the top after UFC London heroics and brands Muhammad Mokaev ‘a born star’
- Tom Aspinall demolished Alexander Volkov at UFC London in first-round finish
- Heavyweight is major British title hope and part of a golden generation
- Aspinall believes he mixes up the different martial arts better than his rivals
- He is also adamant that his next fight will be in the UK this year when UFC return
Tom Aspinall believes the way he can merge MMA disciplines seamlessly sets him apart from his heavyweight rivals.
The British star lit up the O2 Arena at UFC London, demolishing Alexander Volkov in the first round both on the feet and the ground before submitting the Russian.
It was the way Aspinall managed to blend his techniques that stood out on the biggest night of the 28-year-old’s career and will have rung alarm bells in the upper reaches of the division.
Tom Aspinall had the better of Alexander Volkov on the feet in their UFC London clash
The heavyweight submitted his rival for the biggest win of his career so far
Aspinall has been elevated to No 6 in the rankings and while his rivals can hang their hat on particular skillsets, it is the combination of them that makes the Team Kaobon star such a frightening prospect.
He told Sportsmail: ‘I think I surprised a few people with how I mixed it up. I’m not the best boxer in the division, not the best kickboxer, or wrestler, or jiu-jitsu guy, but I am the best at mixing it all up, that’s for sure.
‘I mix up my striking and takedowns so well. I might not be the best striker, I might not be the best wrestler, but I can mix them up so well that people will completely freeze because they have no idea what I’m going to do. That’s obviously good for me so I’ll to keep it that way.’
Michael Bisping remains the only British UFC champion but the retired middleweight is unlikely to hold that tag for long.
The event on March 19 showcased an array of talent from these shores, many of whom are considered future champions in the making or at least top contenders.
Aspinall was incredibly composed under pressure and wants to fight in the UK again next
One man singled out by Aspinall is Muhammad Mokaev, the youngest fighter on the UFC roster, who produced an incredible display to sweep aside Cody Durden in the first round of the curtain-raiser.
Aspinall’s father was Mokaev’s first jiu-jitsu coach so the heavyweight has known about the flyweight’s potential for some time.
He went on: ‘Mokaev is someone to watch out for, let me tell you. That guy is going to be a champion, 100 percent.
‘I’ve known him since he was 12 and he was a champion before he even started MMA, he is a born winner that guy. He’s a born star.
Muhammad Mokaev won in his UFC debut and Aspinall has known him for a decade
Volkov is one of the most dangerous fighters in the division but was made to look ordinary
‘Obviously I think I’m going to be the champion. Leon Edwards of course. Darren Till is extremely talented, when he gets his mojo back…’
The future is looking rosy and Aspinall is dismissive of the prospect of fighting abroad this year having experienced a packed house in the UK.
He went on: ‘It was absolutely unbelievable, incredible. I know some who came to watch me got pepper sprayed for jumping on top of a police car so that was pretty good.
‘It was absolutely wild, crazy. I’m more comfortable in that madness than with nobody there. I never want to fight with no fans ever again.
‘I want to fight in the UK, that’s my interest. I’m not going to America again if they’re coming back here with those fans. We deserve it. We deserve to have the UFC rocking in our country, this is where it needs to be.
Aspinall tapped Volkov with a straight arm lock in the first round of the main event
‘I will represent the UK again in the UK. The Tuivasa call out was planned loosly but I wasn’t looking past Volkov. How can that fight not be fireworks, so we need to make it happen.’
Given the manner of his victory over Volkov, some are calling for Aspinall to be parachuted in immediately for a shot at champion Francis Ngannou when he heals up from surgery.
But the level-headed Brit wants to work his way up hitting every rung on the ladder.
‘I would say slow down for a title shot,’ he added. ‘I’ve only just started off in this thing, let’s not run before we can walk. I’ll fight the guy eventually so let me get as much experience as I can before then.’
Aspinall thrilled the O2 Arena with his performance on a bumper night for the Brits