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Tom Aspinall says Ciryl Gane turned down fight for UFC 304, reacts to Curtis Blaydes booking



Tom Aspinall was willing to fight anyone, but when push came to shove, said Curtis Blaydes was the only one who reciprocated those feelings to the UFC.

Since Manchester was revealed as the UFC 304 location, fight fans have expected to see an Aspinall (14-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) fight announcement associated with the July 27 card. Thursday, UFC CEO Dana White officially announced the bout, and Aspinall’s opponent, Blaydes (18-4 MMA, 13-4 UFC).

“I’m in a bit of a strange conundrum with my division,” Aspinall said in a video posted to his YouTube channel shortly after the announcement. “Usually, when the champ is coming back, the interim would obviously usually fight the champ. Jon Jones is holding sh*t up. Let’s be honest. He’s playing games. So it’s me and Curtis Blaydes.”

While Aspinall did not indicate the UFC ever proposed the Jones bout to him, he revealed Blaydes was not the promotion’s Plan A. According to Aspinall, the UFC told him they wanted to book him against Ciryl Gane. Aspinall said he accepted, but Gane (12-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) did not.

“There’s only one more available guy, and that’s Ciryl Gane,” Aspinall said. “The UFC wanted me to fight Ciryl Gane. I said OK. If the UFC wanted me to do it, we can do it. I’m not bothered. I feel like I’m champion of the world. I’m ranked No. 1 in the world. I’ll fight anybody. You don’t have to talk me into anything. UFC are my bosses. They want me to fight Ciryl Gane. Count me in. That’s OK. We’ll do it. Ciryl, on the other hand, he’s out there doing a film. Ciryl is out there trying to be the French Arnold Schwarzenegger right now. And fair play to him. If he wants to do films and be an actor, go ahead and enjoy yourself, Ciryl. Go do your thing. Make some money. Do it however you do it. But he didn’t take the fight. He wanted to do his film.”

Aspinall and Blaydes have met in the cage once. In July 2022, Aspinall suffered a knee injury 15 seconds into a main event showdown with Blaydes in London. The injury knocked him out of action for a year.

“We have history,” Aspinall said. “We’ve fought before, granted it was 15 seconds and not an actual fight. I got injured. Curtis takes a win. Now, it’s time to get a bit of payback, so I’m very, very, very motivated for this one. If I’m not going to fight Jon, which obviously that’s not going to happen right now, this is the ideal situation. I’m very, very happy. I’m very, very motivated for it. I’m going to put absolutely everything into the training camp, absolutely everything into the lifestyle. Yeah, I’m looking forward to it very much.”

“… UFC 304, a rematch with Curtis Blaydes in my hometown of Manchester, it’s going to be fantastic, the 27th of July. Be there.”

For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 304.

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