Tom Aspinall on Jon Jones vs Ciryl Gane UFC heavyweight title fight | ‘I’ve got what it takes to beat Jon Jones’ | MMA News

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Tom Aspinall has almost completed his recovery from injury and intends to make a run all the way to the UFC heavyweight title.

The Salford fighter believes he will be the man to defeat Jon Jones, who is set to return to the Octogon on Saturday after a three-year absence.

“I do think I’ve got what it takes to beat him. If there’s anyone in the division that has what it takes to beat him, I think it’s me,” Aspinall told Sky Sports News.

“I would love to be the first guy to beat Jon Jones. That would be something.

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Jon Jones and Ciryl Gane shared an intense stare-down ahead of their UFC 285 clash at the T-Mobile Arena

“If you don’t think that you can beat the best fighter of all time then what are you in the sport for? I’m trying to be the best ever. So that’s what I’m going to try and do. And if I don’t do it I’ve tried it. I think a lot of people are scared to do that,” he added.

“A lot of people are scared to say stuff like this and put themselves out there and really have a go at their dream. I’m doing it. I think it should be respected by more people. A lot of people don’t even want to try their dream.”

But Aspinall admits there’s no certainty that Jones will beat Ciryl Gane in their UFC title fight on Saturday.

“I think it can go either way. This is heavyweight MMA at the highest level. The wildest division in the most unpredictable sport in the world. You just never know,” Aspinall said.

“I think a lot of people are writing off Ciryl Gane. He’s very good. He’s very skilful. He’s got an unusual style for a heavyweight in the fact that he’s really mobile, he’s really well balanced, really good on his feet.

“Once Jon Jones gets into a rhythm and he gets comfortable he starts to shut people out completely. He [Gane] has to keep him on the move, he has to be super fit, he has to keep him guessing at all times and not let him be comfortable.

“But we’re talking about Jon Jones. We’re talking about one of the best fighters ever to grace the Octogon. How’s he going to look at heavyweight? We don’t know. But I wouldn’t be surprised either way, that’s for sure.”

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Jon Jones admits he’s a huge fan of Conor McGregor as the pair both prepare to make their returns to the octagon in the UFC

Aspinall sustained a freak knee injury just 15 seconds into his most recent fight in July, but he is now on the verge of returning to action.

“I feel so blessed to be able to be healthy and train with two legs and do what I love every day. And be able to escape positions and balance on one leg that I wasn’t able to do before and move in ways that I’ve not been able to do for a long time because it’s been an ongoing injury,” he said.

“I feel like I’ve got another good run,” Aspinall continued. “I feel like now I can really go for the title. Before I always had this knee injury in the back of my mind. It was like one big secret. Now it’s done, it’s fixed.”

He hopes that run will lead him ultimately to Jones.

“I think I need a bit more experience before I beat him, I’m not getting ahead of myself,” he said but added, “I’m out here trying. I think that should be respected.”

He warns: “I’ve shown barely anything of what I can do in my fights. I can do a whole load more than what I’ve shown and it’s not like I’m keeping some sort of secret thing to myself. It’s nothing like that. My Octogon time is so short that I’ve not really had the opportunity to show a lot of the stuff that I’m really good at.”

He expects to compete once again in Europe in the second half of this year.

Tom Aspinall of England reacts after his submission victory over Andrei Arlovski of Belarus in a heavyweight bout during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on February 20, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
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Tom Aspinall is coming back from injury and planning a title run

“I definitely want to fight somebody in the top 10. That’s like a non-negotiable. I don’t want to fight someone ranked 10 spots lower than me. I feel like everybody in the top 15 can all beat each other on any day, anyway,” he said.

“There’s not much skill difference between us, we’re all at a similar skill level. I’d rather fight the higher ranked guys. But at the end of the day, everyone’s dangerous in that top 15.

“On the trajectory that we’re both on, I’m pretty sure me and [Serghei] Spivac are going to fight again at some point. But I did knock him out in two and a half minutes a year ago. So I think right now that doesn’t really make sense.

“Even though I think he’s very good, I thought he was very good when I fought him. I broke a win streak when I fought him and he’s been on a win streak since. I think right now that fight doesn’t really make sense. Basically we’re looking at [Marcin] Tybura or [Tai] Tuivasa, I’d guess.

“I’m happy either way. I’m not trying to get into this sport to avoid anybody, I’m trying to be the best in the world. So anybody who’s free I’ll take them.”

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