Tom Aspinall explains impromptu Jon Jones faceoff, will be ‘very, very surprised’ if they ever fight

Tom Aspinall doesn’t want people to thank that his face-to-face with Jon Jones was any more dramatic than it seemed.

The UFC heavyweight titleholders — Aspinall is the promotion’s interim champion, while Jones holds undisputed status — had a run-in this past Saturday at the Arnold Sports Festival in Birmingham, England, and the brief encounter saw them exchange words and an awkward moment when Jones brushed Aspinall’s hand away as Aspinall attempted to place it on Jones’ shoulder.

In an interview with JN Media, Aspinall shrugged off Jones’ response and explained why he stepped up to Jones in the first place.

“It was good,” Aspinall said. “We were at the same event so obviously it makes sense for me, we’ve got the interim champion and the undisputed champion at the same event. But it’s a bit weird that there’s an undisputed champion and an interim champion, because undisputed means no one can dispute it, but if there’s another champion, I don’t know, it’s a little bit weird the way it works. It was good, we had a little chat, it was all good.”

“I think he thought I was putting a hand on his shoulder being disrespectful, but I wasn’t,” Aspinall continued. “I wasn’t there to be disrespectful. I was doing it in a friendly way. I’m not going to cause more beef. I’m trying to fight the guy and take his belt, that’s what I want. I have no beef against the guy. To me it’s just friendly, nothing crazy.”

Aspinall made an incredible comeback from a knee injury in 2023, needing just 73 seconds to finish Marcin Tybura in July and then winning an interim title with another first-round knockout of Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295 in November. Since that time, Jones — who won his share of a vacant heavyweight crown by running through Ciryl Gane at UFC 285 — has insisted that he plans to defend his belt against former champion Stipe Miocic and not Aspinall.

If the matchup with Jones never happens, Aspinall doesn’t expect to lose sleep over it.

“No, because I don’t think he’s going to fight me anyway,” Aspinall said when asked if he’s been disappointed by Jones not fighting him. “I’d be very, very surprised if me and Jon Jones ever stepped in the octagon together. I’m trying to get the fight, but I’m not trying to get it realistically. I’m trying to have a bit of fun and see what he’s all about.

“Like, today, I don’t expect the fight to be off the back of this, because in all honesty I don’t think the UFC is going to go for it and I don’t think Jon Jones is going to go for it either, so I’m not deflated at all because I wasn’t expecting the fight anyway.”

Despite plenty of chatter concerning Jones on social media and in interviews, Aspinall is ready to move on, possibly to a matchup with Curtis Blaydes. It was against Blaydes that Aspinall injured his knee in July 2022 and a rematch has long made sense given that the first fight came to an abrupt end 15 seconds into the opening round.

Blaydes recently handed Jailton Almeida his first UFC defeat at UFC 299, and as far as Aspinall is concerned, the ball is in the matchmakers’ court to book the Blaydes fight.

“Curtis Blaydes it is then,” Aspinall said. “I’m easy, I’m the easiest person ever to entice into a fight. I’ve never turned one down yet. So anything that’s stopping me from fighting right now is not down to me, it’s down to the UFC. So I’m just waiting for the UFC to let me know who and when and I’ll be ready.”