Currently riding a 15-fight winning streak, Almeida (20-2 MMA, 6-0 UFC) initially called out Ciryl Gane after his beatdown of former title challenger Derrick Lewis last month. While he still thinks Gane makes sense for him next, the Brazilian contender has shifted his focus to Aspinall.
With undisputed heavyweight champion Jon Jones expected to defend his belt against Stipe Miocic upon his return from injury next year, Aspinall (14-3 MMA, 7-1 UFC) won’t get to unify his belt any time soon. Almeida suggests they fight each other in the meantime.
“Against Ciryl Gane would be ideal, but Tom Aspinall already spoke to the media or whoever and is already talking about a fight with Jailton,” Almeida told MMA Junkie through an interpreter. “So, I think probably the Tom Aspinall fight will come first.”
Aspinall knocked out Sergei Pavlovich in just 69 seconds to claim interim gold, which Almeida was very impressed by. He believes a matchup with Aspinall would represent the future of the division.
“It will be a very good fight because Tom Aspinall is a complete fighter,” Almeida said. “He has really good movement. I see myself as an equal in the sense that it would be a good, fair fight. It would be for the future of the category. It’s going to be the future fight for the title.”
Aspinall called for Jones to be stripped of the heavyweight title, which UFC CEO Dana White dismissed. Almeida also disagrees.
“Jon Jones is still the best in the division,” Almeida said. “I believe Tom Aspinall could eventually get there, but for me, there is no doubt that Jon Jones is still No. 1.”