By: Sean Crose
UFC heavyweight contender Tom Aspinall will be fighting this weekend in London at UFC Fight Night 204. The 28 year old Manchester native will be part of the main event at the O2 Arena Saturday when he battles the 33 year old Alexander Volkov. It’s undoubtedly an intense moment, one that may well spell the future for each man. Aspinall, however, exudes confidence, and some of that confidence apparently comes from WBC and lineal heavyweight titlist Tyson Fury. “At Wednesday’s media day,” wrote MMA Fighting, “Aspinall spoke about how past training sessions with heavyweight boxing king Tyson Fury took his career to another level.”
Way back when Fury was training for his 2015 heavyweight title fight with Wladimir Klitschko, a young Aspinall was a sparring partner for the man known as the Gypsy King. “I think Tyson Fury’s helped me the most mentally,” the mix martial artists said. “Obviously, I improved a lot. My skill set improved, my boxing improved, definitely. It brought me a long way skill-wise. But more so mentally. If Tyson Fury ever gets a watch of this, ‘Thank you.’ I’ve never actually had the chance to thank him for it. He has completely changed my career and the outlook of what I’ve got on combat and fighting.”
There is no doubt something motivational about Fury’s open and well publicized struggle against mental illness. Yet Aspinall saw something inspiring about his fellow Englishman even before Fury’s troubles began to publicly accumulate. “Without him I wouldn’t be where I am right now because my mentality’s changed completely since I trained with him,” Aspinall continued regarding Fury. “It was quite a long time ago now, I was in my early 20s, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to carry on with this sport or box or maybe stop fighting altogether. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and yeah, he just completely changed my whole outlook on everything so I appreciate it.”
Needless to say, Fury got the message. “I just want to wish my buddy Tom Aspinall all the best in his upcoming UFC heavyweight fight,” Fury said on a social media video Thursday. “Good luck, Tom. Do the business, smash his face in, get up there my boy, all the way to the m—-r f—–g bank.” Fury himself has a British fight to focus on. At the moment he’s training under the tutelage of coach Sugar Hill Steward as he prepares to face longtime contender Dillian Whyte on April 23’d.
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