As Jon Jones rules the UFC heavyweight division, English star Tom Aspinall was pointed to as the “dark horse” that poses the biggest threat to “Bones'” throne.
That’s what former UFC heavyweight-turned-podcaster Brendan Schaub said during a recent episode of “The Fighter and the Kid.”
“I think the dark horse that can dethrone Jon, would be Tom Aspinall, if he’s 100% healthy with his knee,” Schaub said. “His boxing’s ridiculous, his footwork, he’s quick, good cardio, black belt on the ground, good wrestling. He’s a handful, but with his leg injury, he’s still a ways out.”
Aspinall is currently ranked No. 5 in the heavyweight division per the official UFC standings. However, Aspinall had a rough outing on his last trip to the Octagon. He headlined the London event in July opposite Curtis Blaydes, and his unbeaten five-fight UFC run was ended after he suffered a knee injury in the opening 15 seconds of the match.
He underwent surgery soon after and while appearing on “The MMA Hour” last week, Aspinall revealed that he’ll be ready to return by June. He called out No. 10 Marcin Tybura to meet him in his comeback but also admitted that battling Bones in the future was a “dream fight” of his.
Schaub Says Stipe Miocic Isn’t ‘Going to Be as Easy to Demolish’ as Gane for Jones
Schaub said that although Jones won, fans, fighters and analysts alike didn’t get a good look at how Bones can operate as an elite heavyweight, considering the contest was over by the 2:04 mark. Next up for Bones appears to be former divisional king Stipe Miocic, and Schaub believes that the man who holds the record for most consecutive heavyweight title defenses can push Jones to the point where more questions are answered regarding Jones’ performance north of his old weight class.
“Not a ton of questions have been answered,” Schaub said. “The verdict is still out on what he looks like at heavyweight. We saw nothing. You didn’t see his cardio, his striking, his footwork, when he gets hit. There’s still a ton of questions to be answered.
“We’ll get more questions answered when he fights Stipe. Stipe’s not going to be as easy to demolish like that. But, it’s going to be a tough fight for [him].”
Aspinall Said He’s Been Suffering From an Injured Knee for 5-6 Years
While speaking with Ariel Helwani on “The MMA Hour,” Aspinall shared that he was operating with a comprised knee for years prior to it giving out after he kicked Blaydes at the O2 Arena.
“The way I’m feeling, absolutely on top of the world,” Aspinall said. “Amazing. Let me tell you — seriously.
“I didn’t realize. I think for a long time I was kind of lying to myself about the injury. The injury, obviously when I fought Blaydes, that’s when the knee completely gave out. But, I’ve had the bad knee for like five, six years. And I think that I kind of got used to training and fighting with one leg, as weird as that sounds.
“And now that my legs fixed and I’ve got two legs to move around on, and I can really do things in the gym that I’ve literally not been able to do since way before I was in the UFC, and it feels absolutely amazing. I’m so happy with it.”
The surgery Aspinall underwent was focused on repairing a torn MCL, as well as damage to his meniscus and ACL.