There’s certainly no animosity between Curtis Blaydes and Tom Aspinall despite the anti-climactic result of their heavyweight matchup at UFC London on Saturday.
Blaydes won the fight 15 seconds into the first round after Aspinall injured his knee after throwing a leg kick, with the latter having to be stretchered out of the Octagon following a suspected MCL tear.
Blaydes said Aspinall handled the situation “very well” considering the circumstances and revealed the two met up and shared a beer in Aspinall’s hotel room after the fight.
“Random,” Blaydes said (h/t MMA Fighting). “I was in my room, obviously we’re in the same hotel. My dad, I guess he was in the lobby downstairs at one of the bars in the lobby area. He was down there, and he bumped into Aspinall’s dad, and my dad is a talker. He’ll make friends with anybody. He’ll be your best friend if you guys have a drink.
“So I guess he got to talking, and then my dad walked into my room and was like, ‘Hey, let’s go up to Aspinall’s room. He wants to have a drink with you.’ So I was like, ‘OK, I’m down.’ So then we go up there, and they’re really nice. The whole Aspinall [crew], his whole squad, his dad, his uncle, everyone, even the women. Everyone was super nice, super cool...
“We were up there for like an hour. A good, solid hour. They were nice guys, and the atmosphere was very friendly, very inviting.”
“He handled it very well – he was upbeat. He was fine. He knows he’ll be back. He knows he’s young. He’s already better than Derrick Lewis, I think he’s better than Tuivasa; I think he’s better than Gane. I think he’s more well-rounded. He obviously has the wrestling, he has jiu-jitsu, he’s very athletic on the feet. I believe that he believes he’s going to bounce back, and I believe it also. I don’t think this is the end of Aspinall.”
As much as Blaydes enjoyed the encounter, the 31-year-old almost regrets meeting Aspinall after the fight because he knows a rematch is inevitable in the future.
“I wish I hadn’t gone up there, because now I like him!” Blaydes said. “I like the guy. You don’t want to fight someone you like, and I know we’re going to scrap again. I know, because he’s only 29, he’ll be back. I know he’s going to be out for eight, nine months, even a year, but he’ll be here, so I know we’re going to scrap again, and it’s hard to scrap a guy you like. ...
“I didn’t know anything about him [before]. I was in the middle. I was indifferent. I didn’t like him or not like him, but now he’s a nice guy. I know he’s got kids, he’s a dad, he’s a good dude. So it was nice to meet him. Nice having a beer.”
Blaydes won the fight via first-round TKO to extend his winning streak to three consecutive fights. He is currently #4 in the UFC heavyweight rankings.