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UFC documentary footage shows Tom Aspinall almost missed out on title fight as Dana White preferred different matchup

Tom Aspinall’s career would be very different if Dana White got his way.

‘The Honey Badger’ stepped in on short notice and knocked out Sergei Pavlovich to become the interim heavyweight champion at UFC 295 last November.


Aspinall took out his toughest opponent to date in 69 secondsCredit: Getty

However, that fight was not the one the UFC wanted to put on when Jon Jones got injured and pulled out of his heavyweight title defence against Stipe Miocic.

A recently released documentary about the UFC shows behind-the-scenes footage of White and his right-hand man, Hunter Campbell, brainstorming about the event.

Campbell informs his boss that Aspinall and Pavlovich have agreed to step up before suggesting he could make an even better fight between lightweight champion Islam Makhachev and Charles Oliveira.

The 155lb rivals were supposed to face off at UFC 294 a month earlier but Oliveira got cut in his final sparring session, and Alexander Volkanovski replaced him.

“Here’s what we can do,” Campbell said on Fight Inc: Inside the UFC

“If we do Aspinall and Pavlovich, it’s the legitimate fight with the two best young f***ing heavyweights in the world.

“They both can do it. I talked to Tom last night and said ‘Just let me know what your weight is. I might be looking for a backup to the backup.’

“That’s what I told him last night, and he called me back and told me he’s in.

White and Campbell came together to save UFC 295


White and Campbell came together to save UFC 295Credit: Roku/Fight Inc: Inside the UFC
A rematch between two lightweight stars was their preferred option


A rematch between two lightweight stars was their preferred optionCredit: AFP

“At least we have that. The other thing I could look at, I could try to see if Islam and Oliveira want to go. Islam took no f***ing damage. I don’t think he even took a single strike.

“Oliveira is in shape and his cut will be ready by then too.”

Adam Catterall and Brendan Loughnane name the UFC fights they want to see this year including Tom Aspinall vs. Jon Jones

White interjected: “I f***ing love that actually. That’s a f***ing no-brainer.”

Campbell assured the UFC CEO he could ‘pull it off’ and the pair fist-bumped before going their separate ways to work on the short-notice title bout.

In the next scene, Oliveira gets on the phone and tells Campbell that he will not be ready to fight at UFC 295, which results in Apsinall getting his title shot.

Now, he’s one of the biggest stars on the roster and in line to challenge Jones or Miocic for the undisputed title after they fight later this year.

In the meantime, Aspinall will headline UFC 304 in Manchester on July 27.

Revenge will be on his mind when he takes on Curtis Bladyes, who technically has a 15-second TKO win over him following their first meeting in July 2022.

Aspinall injured his knee in the opening moments, but now he’s on a two-fight win streak and fitter than ever heading into their scrap at the Co-op Live Arena in Manchester.

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