Tom Aspinall fights back the tears as ‘monster’ knocks out Pavlovich at UFC 295
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Tom Aspinall was forced to fight back the tears after defeating Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295 to become the interim heavyweight champion.
The 30-year-old, who took the bout on just two-and-a-half weeks' notice, knocked out Russian Pavlovich a little over a minute into the first round inside Madison Square Garden on Saturday (November 11) night.
A pair of clobbering right hands got the job done in impressive fashion, with Aspinall following in the footsteps of Michael Bisping and current welterweight king Leon Edwards as the third British UFC champion in history.
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He cut an emotional figure inside the Octagon as the victory began to sunk in, and was teary-eyed as Dana White presented him with his new belt – which he dedicated to his trainer dad Andy in his post-fight interview with Joe Rogan.
"I can't even tell you (how it feels)," said Aspinall. "It's been a crazy two and a half weeks. If you ever get a chance to do something and you're scared to do it – you should f***ing do it.
"I've worked so hard over the years and no one has worked harder than my father so this belt is dedicated to him. I was struggling with the distance a little bit but we got there in the end."
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His victory was celebrated by fans in the UK who had stayed up into the early hours to watch him. One hailed: "Tom Aspinall is an absolute joke. What a monster of a man. Get in there."
"Tom Aspinall is a f***ing monster! Can’t believe everyone was doubting him," echoed a second, while a third exclaimed: "Aspinall is a f***ing monster! A guy that big moving that fast and still hitting that hard is incredible…"
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The Wigan-born star had managed to hold back the tears well until he crossed paths with Bisping – who also won his middlweight belt on 17 days' notice in 2016 – on his way back to the changing room. They embraced and Aspinall had to wipe his face clean.
Having had time to reflect on what had just happened, he later told TNT Sports' Caroline Pearce: "Mission accomplished. I made a mission to myself after the knee injury.
"I decided I’m gonna go all in or I’m going to retire, and I decided to go all in. It’s not often you see me lost for words but this went better than I could ever have imagined."
Talking through the knockout, Aspinall explained: "I’ve never been that nervous in my life. At first I couldn’t get my range properly with him.
"I remember he hit me with a shot and my gum shield came out so I was trying to back up and push it back in. And I can’t even remember the rest to be honest."
With heavyweight champ Jon Jones out injured, Aspinall intends on defending his interim belt – and has a date in mind. "I want to be the best heavyweight ever," he declared, before adding: "I want to fight on UFC 300, that’s my goal. April, around my birthday, that’s perfect."
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