4. Tom Aspinall - UFC London (July 23, 2022)
Tom Aspinall’s near-perfect heavyweight run in the UFC has only one smudge mark - an unfortunate TKO loss to Curtis Blaydes due to a knee injury.
In the July 2022 clash at UFC London, Aspinall had his 5-0 UFC streak broken in front of a passionate home crowd. The Salford-born MMA fighter fell 15 seconds into the fight, clutching his right knee for dear life after it buckled when he threw a kick. Blaydes looked confused and disappointed as Herb Dean waved the fight off, declaring it a TKO stoppage.
Aspinall lay on the canvas, writhing in pain, as UFC officials and the cage-side physician rushed in to help. He was taken out of the octagon on a stretcher, his leg wrapped in a splint.
While the fight did not go how either of them wanted, Blaydes showed absolute class and visited Aspinall to share a pint of beer.
In a health update provided a few days later, Aspinall revealed on Instagram that he had suffered “a torn MCL, a torn meniscus, and some ACL damage” and was undergoing surgery in London that day.
Given the fight was to have title ramifications, Blaydes failed to capitalize on the win, losing to Sergei Pavlovich next via first-round TKO in April 2023. Aspinall, on the other hand, took exactly a year to recover and make his comeback but was dominantly successful upon return.
Fighting in the main event of yet another UFC London card, he not only knocked out Marcin Tybura within a minute and 13 seconds of Round 1 but also took the ‘Performance of the Night’ bonus. He followed it up with yet another first-round finish at UFC 296, knocking out Pavlovich to become the interim UFC heavyweight champion.