UFC 304 in Manchester to Receive Tom Aspinall vs. Curtis Blaydes 2 as Co-Main Event

UFC
May 17, 2024
The Ultimate Fighting Championship is making the unorthodox decision of having an interim champ defend their throne.

In the co-headliner of UFC 304 on July 27, Tom Aspinall (14-3) will collide with Curtis Blaydes (18-4, 1 NC) once again, this time for the interim heavyweight strap. The two first met at UFC Fight Night 208 in 2022, and Aspinall blew his knee out in 15 seconds to suffer the loss. While Jon Jones is currently the division’s disputed champ, the promotion opted to have Aspinall defend while keeping Jones available to presumably face Stipe Miocic at some future date. The Aspinall-Blaydes rematch booking was first announced on Thursday by the UFC, putting together a likely main card for the Co-op Live pay-per-view offering in Manchester, England.

Greater Manchester native Aspinall burst onto the scene in the UFC’s heavyweight class by demolishing five straight foes in the span of less than two years. Aspinall wrecked Jake Collier and Alan Baudot in under two minutes each, tapped Andrei Arlovski, ran through Sergey Spivak and landed a rare straight armbar on Alexander Volkov to cement himself a contender. When the first Blaydes bout did not go his way, the 31-year-old bounced back a year later to smash Marcin Tybura, and he claimed interim gold by smoking Sergei Pavlovich in 69 seconds in November 2023. This will be the first time an interim beltholder has had to defend since Renan Barao fought Eddie Wineland at UFC 165 in 2013.

Despite serving as a contender at heavyweight for years, this will be Blaydes’ first attempt to hoist a strap in the Octagon. Multiple title eliminator-type matchups did not go his way, including a pair of beatdowns from Francis Ngannou, a stunning knockout from Derrick Lewis and a meeting with Pavlovich that ended poorly. The former NJCAA wrestler out of Harper College currently maintains the UFC heavyweight division’s record for most takedowns landed at 62, and he is only six away from doubling Cain Velasquez’ 34 in the no. 2 spot.

Reference: https://www.sherdog.com/news/news/UFC-304-in-Manchester-to-Receive-Tom-Aspinall-vs-Curtis-Blaydes-2-as-CoMain-Event-193715

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