UFC Interim Heavyweight Champion Tom Aspinall has criticized boxing promoters for not putting on competitive fights.
Aspinall is arguably one of the most explosive fighters in MMA having knocked out Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295 in the first round to secure back-to-back stoppage wins in his last two fights. A fight with Jon Jones has been mentioned. However, the heavyweight champion is out injured until next year after damaging his pectoral muscle in sparring, which prevented his fight with Stipe Miocic from going ahead. Despite that being a potentially competitive fight, Aspinall did not see it the same when it came to boxing. The MMA fighter criticized the make-up of the cards, with the results often being predictable.
“You can literally look at a card, you can look at an Eddie Hearn show, a Frank Warren show, any other promoter’s show and know — say there are 10 fights on, you can know at least eight of the winners before the bell rings on any of the fights. I can’t stand it. We’re talking about the top guys in the world, none of them are fighting each other. What is this?”
The UFC has thrown up plenty of action-packed fights this year. The UFC Noche event featuring Valentina Shevchenko and Alexa Grasso’s rematch was a thriller, which ended in a split-draw after Mike Bell’s controversial 10-8 scorecard. Meanwhile, Sean Strickland caused a major upset when he beat Israel Adesanya to grab the middleweight title.
The year also featured two fights between UFC Lightweight Champion Islam Makhachev and UFC Featherweight Champion Alexander Volkanovski, with their February fight being an instant classic and a contender for ‘Fight of the Year.’ The action-packed fight went the distance. Although Makhachev was given the win by a unanimous decision, the result divided the MMA community with a feeling that Volkanovski could have taken the decision on another day. As for the rematch, Makhachev stopped the Australian with a first-round KO after Volkanovski took the fight on less than two weeks’ notice following Charles Oliveira’s withdrawal.
Nevertheless, unlike the UFC, boxing does have numerous promoters and networks. That has on occassion prevented the biggest fights from being made. But at the same time, this has resulted in boxers getting higher purses compared to UFC fighters due to their leverage. And yet, it may have come at the expense of the boxing fanbase, which is why Aspinall was worried about the direction of the sport.
“I am a massive boxing fan. I absolutely love the sport of boxing, [but] I absolutely can’t stand the boxing model. Hate it. I hate the way boxing is going at the moment because I love the sport of boxing. I love the science. I love the defensive techniques, which is amazing. I absolutely love watching actual classic, traditional boxers who are defensively brilliant — it’s my favorite thing. The way the sport is going at the moment is absolutely terrible,” Aspinall