The UFC announced this week that Aspinall will fight Tybura in a headline bout on 22 July, marking the British heavyweight’s third straight main event at the O2 Arena.
However, the UFC was considering alternative options until recently, Aspinall told The Independent on Friday (12 May).
“Me and Tybura actually know each other personally,” Aspinall said. “We were both looking for fights and believed that none of the heavyweights were really free, so we said, ‘Let’s get a fight going with each other.’
“I asked the UFC matchmakers when I was in London [for UFC 286 in March], and they were like, ‘We’re keen on it, we just don’t know if Tybura is a big enough name to do a main event.’
“I started seeing people were getting booked for this event, so I messaged the UFC again and asked: ‘What’s going on? Why have you not sent me a contract yet?’ They said, ‘We’re not overly thrilled on this for a main event.’ So, I said: ‘I don’t mind not fighting in the main event, just give me a fight.’
“They said they were gonna try a couple of other opponents first, because they wanted me as a main event. The opponents declined, so I’m fighting Tybura. That’s where we’re at.”
Aspinall headlined UFC London in March 2022 – the promotion’s first event in Britain since the Covid pandemic began – and submitted Alexander Volkov in the first round. At the time, the Fight Night broke the record for the highest-grossing sports event in O2 Arena history. Four months later, Aspinall headlined at the venue again but suffered a knee injury just 15 seconds into his fight with Curtis Blaydes.
When Aspinall, 30, faces Poland’s Tybura on 22 July, the Briton will be returning to the ring 364 days after his ill-fated fight with Blaydes.
It is a testament to the UFC’s belief in Aspinall that the promotion proceeded in booking his bout with Tybura as a main event, four months after UFC 286 took place at the O2 – the first UFC pay-per-view in Britain since 2016. And while Aspinall insisted that he is “thrilled” to be headlining under the dome again, and acknowledged that the UFC views him as a future “title contender or champion”, he also offered a self-deprecating take.
“I think the UFC sells itself, really,” he told The Independent. “You could have two 10-year-old girls fighting each other, and they’d probably sell out the O2. Especially in this country now, when we’re in a massive boom for MMA, I think you could put basically anyone on and it would do well. But for them to have faith in me is a dream. I’m so privileged to be able to represent the UK again, I’m over the moon.”
Aspinall’s professional record stands at 12-3 with nine knockout wins and three submissions. Eleven of his 12 victories have come in the first round, with the other occurring in Round 2.
Prior to his injury against Blaydes, Aspinall had won eight fights in a row.
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