In the lead-up to Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic earlier this month, something felt off as far as the anticipation for that fight. Of course, the bout never came to fruition given a torn pectoral tendon sustained by Jones. But in hindsight, the matchup being canceled may have been for the better.
The buzz and anticipation for a fight between perhaps the greatest fighter ever and the greatest heavyweight ever were severely lacking. Ultimately, this had a lot to do with Stipe Miocic, who has not competed since March 2021. We are closing in on the end of 2023 now, and given the recent news, it does not seem like we will see Miocic back until early 2024 when he faces Jones.
Why is Stipe Miocic next?
The future Hall of Famer has fought just three times since 2019, yet has remained firmly in the mix for title opportunities. Stipe is certainly a legend in this sport, without a doubt. But I do not understand why the UFC still plans to go forward with Jones-Miocic. Although it was not that exciting the first time around, I can understand why they booked the matchup. But now? I just don’t see why you still make that fight.
Again, not only has the 41-year-old been extremely inactive, but you now have a clear number one contender in Tom Aspinall. Of course, when you’re in the top five of a division, oftentimes whoever gets picked to fight for the title can be subjective.But Aspinall just captured the interim heavyweight championship, which literally makes you the number one contender.
Tom Aspinall Should Be Next
If the UFC is not going to honor the concept behind an interim title, then why even have one? One would imagine that Tom Aspinall will still be fighting for the undisputed belt in his next fight, but that could be a very long time from now. Would Aspinall want to wait until the fight between Jones and Miocic gets settled? Now that he’s next in line, would he be willing to take another fight in the meantime? This just creates a weird situation for Tom and the division.
With Jon Jones vs. Stipe Miocic being rumored to be a retirement fight for both guys, the likelihood of Aspinall getting in there with the GOAT is quite slim. Unless Jones decides to stick around (or Stipe if he wins), Aspinall will likely have to face the next best contender in the division. However, given how crazy UFC matchmaking can be, it is certainly best to just wait and see how this actually plays out.
Regardless of everything, though, the fact that we probably don’t see Jones take on Aspinall just feels wrong at this point. Tom is really coming into his own and emerging as one of the biggest threats that Jones would have seen in some time. At just 30 years of age, Aspinall has won 10 of his last 11 fights, the only loss being from a knee injury he suffered early in the fight. Since Tom knocked out Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295, social media has been clamoring for Jones and Aspinall to face off in a huge showdown.
Best Not Fighting Best?
The UFC has risen to the very top of combat sports. In large part due to their ability to give the fans the fights that they want to see. Even Dana White himself has said that in the UFC, the best fight the best, period. Well, in a company that really prides itself on those standards, it does not feel like we are getting that in this scenario.