Tom Aspinall’s latest Ultimate Fighting Championship victory came by different means than he anticipated it would.
After nearly finishing Andrei Arlovski with punches in the opening stanza, the Englishman landed a takedown early in Round 2, locking in a rear-naked choke for a submission victory at the 1:09 mark of the period.
“I didn’t expect to finish him with a submission. That’s the last thing I expected,” Aspinall said. “I thought it was going to be a quick knockout or I’m going to beat him on points. Very happy with it, but not very happy with the performance. I’ve got a lot to work on, but I’ve got a long time to work on it. It’s all good.”
Aspinall’s previous five triumphs — including two in UFC competition — had come via KO or TKO, but the Team Kaobon product points out that he has solid submission skills even if he doesn’t usually show them.
“I’ve been doing jiu-jitsu for a long time. My dad’s one of the first black belts in the UK. Just because I’m not doing it [in fights], doesn’t mean I can’t do it,” he said. “I can do jiu-jitsu at a high level. Let people think that I can’t do it because they’re going to be surprised.
“My striking was not on point tonight. I don’t know why,” Aspinall added. “Just couldn’t get it going tonight. Maybe that’s because he’s a veteran and the shots weren’t there as easily. I don’t know, but it’s early days for me. I’ve got a long time to improve.”
Aspinall admitted to being a little starstruck during fight week. Arlovski is one of the most well-known heavyweights in the UFC and a former champion. And even though his best days are behind him, the Belarusian entered Saturday night having won three of his last four promotional appearances.
“I’ve been in that hotel scared all week. He’s a scary guy. I’m scared of Andrei Arlovski. I’ve got no problem saying it,” Aspinall said. “I watched him for a long time. I watched him so much that I almost knew what he was going to do before he did it. It means a lot to me.”
Going forward, Aspinall would like to continue to test himself against some of the heavyweight division’s more experienced talents.
“I’d like to fight some more veterans, to be honest. I feel like I learned a lot in there tonight,” he said. “When you fight someone who’s been in there with everyone, it rubs off on you. I feel I learned a lot in there tonight and I’m going to be better next time because of it. It’s brilliant to knock someone out in 30 seconds, but there’s not a lot you learn from it. I’d like to fight another experienced guy.”
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