Michael Bisping has tipped Tom Aspinall to make light work of Sergei Pavlovich in the co-main event at UFC 295 before going on to become “the greatest heavyweight champion” of all time.
It’s a bout between two rising heavyweight stars and Bisping, the former middleweight champion, expects his fellow Brit to get his hand raised and go on to etch his name into UFC history.
“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Bisping said on the pre-fight show. “I do believe he [Aspinall] beats him [Pavlovich]. I believe he makes it look relatively easy.
“And that’s not disrespect to Sergei, it’s because of how capable Tom is, and I think the skill set that he has, has got all the ingredients to get him the win here.
“I think he beats him. I think he beats Jon Jones if that comes up. And I think he dominates the heavyweight division for quite some time, and he will retire as the greatest heavyweight champion that the UFC has ever seen.
“I’m serious. I’ve always said this about Tom and after Marcin Tybura, I said in the post-fight show, I said Jon Jones couldn’t hold a candle to Tom Aspinall. And people came after me online and I understand why – this is Jon Jones.
“Maybe there was a little bit of recency bias from how devastatingly easy he beat Marcin Tybura but he does that every time. Every time. When has anyone ever given Tom a problem?”
Aspinall has only once been taken out of the first round – by Andrei Arlovski in February 2021 – and boasts wins by knockout and submission.
But despite his bold prediction, Bisping did warn of Pavlovich’s power. The Russian is on a devastating six-fight win streak, all of which have come via knockout in the first round, which includes victories over Derrick Lewis, Tai Tuivasa and Curtis Blaydes.
“I’m high on Tom and I’m trying to will it into existence as well, and I do believe that he will win. However, you’ve got to respect the threat on the other side,” Bisping added.
“Sergei Pavlovich isn’t a big, lumbersome, slow heavyweight, he’s got knockout power. Sometimes you think of, with respect, a Derrick Lewis-type. He’s not, he’s fast, he’s a proper athlete as well.
“There’s footage of him. I think he’s at Huntington Beach in California. He’s underneath the pier and he’s shadow boxing and his hands are like lightning.
“After Alistair Overeem, after that one loss in the UFC, he did take some time away, he did get better, and he did improve. And he also knows what’s at stake here, he wants to be a champion.
“Look at what has happened to Khabib Nurmagamedov, look at the world fame that he has and look at the riches. And let’s be honest, that’s why we do this, we are prize fighters.
“He’s looking at someone like Khabib that is world famous with millions and millions of dollars in the bank. He wants a piece of that.
“So you know the best version of Sergei Pavlovich is showing up and that version, as always, is an incredibly dangerous version.”
The key for Aspinall, therefore, is to avoid Pavlovich’s main weapon and take the fight to the ground, and if he does that Bisping is certain he’ll earn his seventh UFC win.
“He’s kind of a one-trick pony in terms of he does it all with the hands. It’s a trick you definitely want to miss. You do not want to get hit with that power, simple as that.
“He puts people to sleep with one shot, true one-shot knockout power but that’s kind of it.
“If you can avoid that, if you can mix things up, if you can use the footwork which Tom Aspinall does. It’s cliche to mention at this point, he’s so fast on the feet, he’s so agile, he move like a middleweight, he moves like a lightweight for crying out loud.
“Look at that last fight against Marcin Tybura, dancing around the octagon so light on his feet looking like Muhammad Ali, floating like a butterfly stinging like a bee.
“That’s what he’s got to do in this fight he’s got to avoid those big shots, he’s got to get in, land the jab, get out. He’s got to set traps and then he’s going to level change, take him down. And if he gets on top, I believe it’s over.”
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