Aspinall vs Blaydes
Automatically when you look at this fight, you need to know that the judges and the crowd will be a concern for Blaydes supporters. With that said, the crowd can’t fight for Aspinall and the fight can only be toiled with if it goes to the cards. So there are situations that the crowd and location will play no hand in this, but the concern is real if the fight goes to the cards. When you look at this card in its entirety, there are obviously a few fighters that are from that side of the pond that are big time favorites. However, the one headliner that will end the show has pretty symmetrical odds. Why is that? And would Blaydes be the favorite if this fight was in Vegas? When you look at this fight, So many people break it down from the wrong angles and forget to add the most important elements to it. They are too concerned with reading numbers and resumes and trying to look smart, and forgetting one thing and probably the most important thing. The fighters will never be bigger than the company. What I mean by that, is that the UFC matchmakers have a blueprint in place about how they want things to go ahead of the cards. They are very strategic in their approach and although there is really no harm or no foul if the other man wins in many cases, ultimately they know who is going to bring the money into the stream. When you look at Blaydes, this is a guy who is dangerous and a very good fighter. With that said, it is fair to say that he was a part of the pipeline already and failed to come through. A big spot against Francis in a Main event spot ended with a tombstone KO and a fight against Derrick Lewis ended the same way. Both of those spots made him have to reset things and start his quest a few rungs down the ladder again. Now he is 2-2 in Main event spots, taking on a guy that the UFC is giving the same opportunity to in Tom Aspinall. Aspinall is extremely marketable, smart, well spoken, and a very good athlete. What makes it better is that he is a fighter from a different pond and we all know how the UFC loves fighters from outside regions. Why? Because the UFC soaked up the states already and now they are really trying to soak up the rest of the regions, hence the reason why they love the asian market and others. This is not national any longer. This is international and the UFC has a fine print to soak up the masses. So in the grand scheme of it all, if Aspinall wins this fight, the next stop will be title talks. However, this is by far his toughest test to date and to be honest with you, I would not be shocked if it backfires in the UFC’s face.
Blaydes brings extremely good size, ability, and a wrestling game that once he gets going, it is very hard to slow his train down. The best way to beat Blaydes is to time and catch him coming in on a shot. This is something that he has been caught and paid for in the past. He tends to really dip his head and have blinders on when he takes his shots which keeps him very open to being caught. It is probably the one hole in his game that makes me wince whenever I see him take the shot. With a record of 16-3, he has only lost to 2 men. FRANCIS 2 times and Derrick Lewis 1 Time. Outside of that, Blaydes has ragdolled and beaten everyone else in his path, however, he has never really fought anyone that can really challenge his wrestling like Aspinall can. With 11 wins by way of KO, Blaydes is a prolific finisher once the ball starts rolling in his direction. However, in his 3 losses, he has been KOD in all of them. Mind you, it was at the hands of 2 of the most devastating power punchers that the UFC may have ever seen, it shows that he does have a crack in his armor from that vantage point. Do not expect submissions coming from his chain wrestling on the back end, but the positions that he does settle into, are all prime positions to lay some serious GNP in order to finish the fight landing hard and heavy shots. Blaydes is a very well rounded fighter, minus the submission grappling, but the wrestling at heavyweight, makes up for the submission end of it, due to the way he finds very trapping and helpless positions to land hard and heavy. He will need to pull out all the breaks here though, because from the optics, Aspinall looks like he has a very well rounded game at his disposal as well and most likely won’t just settle into 1 position, without a dog fight.
Aspinall comes in with a record of 12-2 record and although he has been on a tear in the UFC, there is something comforting knowing that he has lost 2 fights in his career already. The undefeated fear always creeps in on this level and it seems he has gotten it out of the way 2 times already. With 9KOS and 3Subs, aspinall has finished all of his opposition. Since his stay in the UFC, I would rank his opposition 6 out of 10 and outside of Volkov, he has fought nooone like Blaydes before. Now I know the crowd is there for him. He will have an entire nation behind him here and that is great, but will the lights be a bit too bright for him? Sometimes situations like this seem to flow against where you want it to go and you can freeze up in the moment. This is a huge spot for him and there are many questions that are still unanswered. 1 of the biggest ones is his conditioning. In 14 fights, Aspinall has only been in round number 2, 3 times in his career. All 9 other fights ended inside round 1. Now this is a 5 round fight and you need to wonder if that will play its hand in this fight. What happens if this fight hits round 3 or 4 or 5?
We really don’t know. Also, how is his back game if he gets planted there? We don’t know that either. The issue with this fight is we know that he is a very good and skilled fighter, but we haven’t seen him in the deeper waters. We haven’t seen him really hurt and how he will actually respond to that situation if he is put there. We also have not seen his skill set against someone as skilled and as athletic as Blaydes. So to say that this isn’t a very dangerous fight for him would be a complete understatement. He will have a lot of pressure on him in this spot, but after watching his interviews leading up this fight, he just seems very humble and has a cool calm about him. Mind you, all that can in fact change when he hears the crowd and all eyes are on him, but he has a maturity about him that is hard to overlook. Some people are talented and once they get to the spot, they just aren’t ready. I think Aspinall is ready for this spot. I think he has prepared for this spot, understanding that this was inevitable happening at some point soon. I think he does have faith in his skills and I really believe he is going to fight very smart and composed. Will it be enough against someone as seasoned and well rounded as Blaydes? Maybe not, but I am going to say it will be, and Aspinall gives the people of the UK a reason to believe in yet another high profile prospect.
The Pick: Tom Aspinall by way of Decision