Aspinall cheered by fans at UFC title weigh-in

Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York Date: Saturday, 11 November
Coverage: Follow text commentary on BBC Sport website & app from 05:00 GMT on Sunday, 12 November

Tom Aspinall was cheered by fans as he weighed in for his interim heavyweight title fight against Sergei Pavlovich at UFC 295 in New York on Saturday.

Stepping on the scales in front of supporters waving England flags, Aspinall, 30, weighed in at 261.6lb with Russia’s Pavlovich 259.8lb.

Aspinall took the fight at Madison Square Garden on just 17 days notice after an injury to champion Jon Jones.

“This fight means the absolute world to me,” said Aspinall.

“I’ve got guys who have travelled here from the UK. Look at the size of us guys. Lock us in the cage, it’s going to be madness.”

Aspinall appeared calm but confident and showed respect to the stoic Pavlovich, who was booed by fans, as the pair shook hands following a face-off.

In stepping in to replace the bout between Jones and Stipe Miocic, Aspinall becomes the first Briton to challenge for a UFC interim heavyweight title and could become just the third British champion in the promotion’s history, after Michael Bisping and Leon Edwards.

Since making his UFC debut in 2020 Aspinall has finished six of his seven fights, but in 31-year-old Pavlovich he is facing an athlete with six consecutive first-round knockouts.

Aspinall has said to “expect fireworks” during the fight, pointing to the pair’s unrivalled finishing ability.

At one minute 36 seconds, Aspinall has the shortest average fight time in UFC history (minimum of five fights), with Pavlovich possessing the second shortest of an active fighter at two minutes 22 seconds.

‘The samurai versus the tribal warrior’

In the main event for the light-heavyweight title, the Czech Republic’s Jiri Prochazka and Brazil’s Alex Pereira both weighed in at 204lb.

The bout has been billed by critics as an exciting clash of cultures, with Prochazka practising bushido – the moral code followed by Japanese samurai – and Pereira embodying the spirit of his tribal ancestors in Brazil.

Prochazka, sporting a top-knot ponytail he refers to as his “war hair” bowed after stepping on the scales, while Pereira wore face paint in homage to his tribe.

The pair engaged in an intense stare-down before shaking hands and acknowledging the crowd.

Prochazka is looking to regain the title he vacated one year ago because of a serious shoulder injury, before American Jamahal Hill became champion in January.

An injury to Hill in July, however, forced him to relinquish the belt, leading to the much-anticipated contest between Prochazka and Pereira being set up.

“I’m glad to be back with full power after a tough year,” said Prochazka.

“But believe me, tomorrow, I will take that belt.”

Pereira moved up to light-heavyweight in July, defeating Jan Blachowicz, and is aiming to win a second title in just his seventh UFC fight.

Should Pereira win, he will break Randy Couture’s 11-bout record as the UFC fighter to become a two-division champion in the shortest number of fights.