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Aspinall says Jones is holding up heavyweight division: 'He's playing games'

Chris Unger / UFC / Getty

UFC interim heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall says that he's not responsible for the lack of movement in the heavyweight division. Instead, he's pointing the finger at champion Jon Jones.

"It's not me," Aspinall said. "I'm here to fight people. (I) love this stuff, this is what I was born to do, this is what I wanted to do since the year started — since the last fight against Pavlovich — I've wanted to get back in there."

He continued: "Bit of a strange conundrum with my division. Usually, when the champ is coming back, the interim (champion) would obviously fight the champ. Jon Jones is holding shit up, let's be honest. He's playing games."

The UFC announced on Thursday that Aspinall would defend his title against Curtis Blaydes at UFC 304 in Manchester, England on July 27. The card is set to be headlined by a welterweight title fight that will see Belal Muhammad challenge Leon Edwards.

Aspinall said he's "motivated" to avenge his only defeat in the UFC. He sustained a devastating knee injury 15 seconds into the opening round against Blaydes during their first meeting at a Fight Night event in July 2022 at the O2 Arena in London. With the bout set to take place in his hometown of Manchester, the interim champ is keen for a redo against a familiar foe.

"If I'm not going to fight Jon, which obviously that's not going to happen right now, this is the ideal situation," Aspinall said.

He added: "Me and Curtis Blaydes, though, we have history, we fought before — granted it was 15 seconds, it wasn't an actual fight. I got injured, Curtis takes the win, but now it's time to get a bit of payback."

The 31-year-old Aspinall was named interim heavyweight champion after he dispatched Sergei Pavlovich in 69 seconds to earn a first-round KO at UFC 295 last November.

Jones has been sidelined due to different ailments and underwent a procedure to repair a torn pectoral tendon. His last match took place in March 2023, when he successfully defeated Ciryl Gane to capture the vacant heavyweight title.

Aspinall's comments are the latest in an ongoing back-and-forth between him and Jones. While "Bones" previously admitted that Aspinall is a viable contender for the undisputed title, he appears intent on a fight against former champion Stipe Miocic after returning to training.

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