Tom Aspinall is best known for his heavy hands but the 27-year-old prospect proved his ground game is just as dangerous.
Taking on a legend in Andrei Arlovski in the opening bout on the main card at UFC Vegas 19, Aspinall definitely showed his striking but he did not hesitate to seize on an opening to grab a powerful takedown and then immediately grab onto the rear naked choke that ended the fight.
The stoppage came at 1:09 in the second round.
“He’s a veteran,” Aspinall said about Arlovski after needing more time to finish him than his first two opponents in the UFC combined. “I hit him with a good couple shots. I just shot in with a big blast-double through the middle. Then the Aspinall jiu-jitsu baby. Rear naked.”
Aspinall was quick to take the center of the cage at the start of the fight but Arlovski showed no fear trading hands with the British heavyweight. That backfired just before the midway point of the round when Aspinall clipped Arlovski with a stiff shot and then unloaded with a barrage of rapid-fire punches that had the former UFC champion trapped with little room to escape.
Despite the relentless attack, Arlovski found a way to survive and reset before firing back with a few shots of his own to slow Aspinall down.
As the second round got underway, Arlovski was beginning to find some confidence in his hands while exchanging strikes with Aspinall on the feet.
Rather than continuing to trade punches, Aspinall ducked down, grabbed onto Arlovski’s leds and bulled forward for a takedown as the heavyweights crashed against the cage. A split second later as Arlovski turned away, Aspinall jumped on a rear-naked choke and almost as quickly as he latched his arms around the neck, the tap came to end the fight.
Now 3-0 inside the octagon, Aspinall said after this latest win he would ideally face one of the other heavyweight winners from UFC Vegas 19 in his next appearance as he seeks to continue his climb up the heavyweight ranks.