Brilliant Aspinall stops Tybura in first round

Brilliant Aspinall stops Tybura in first round

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Tom Aspinall in action against Marcin Tybura
The win was Aspinall’s sixth in seven UFC fights

Tom Aspinall marked his return from a serious knee injury in style, brilliantly stopping Marcin Tybura in the first round at UFC London.

The 30-year-old heavyweight’s speed and clean striking outclassed Poland’s Tybura before the referee stopped the fight on the ground.

Britain’s Aspinall was fighting for the first time since getting injured in defeat to Curtis Blaydes one year ago.

“This is a whole new version of me,” said Aspinall at the O2 Arena.

“I’m not going to say I’m back because I’m a different fighter now. My body is different and I’m going all the way.”

The event was the UFC’s fourth at the O2 Arena inside 16 months and was watched by a host of UFC stars octagon-side, including Britain’s welterweight champion Leon Edwards, unbeaten star Khamzat Chimaev and Liverpool’s Paddy Pimblett.

In the lead-up to the bout with 37-year-old Tybura, Aspinall said he was “returning to the scene of the crime” in headlining once again in London.

He described the moment he was injured one year ago, lying in helpless agony on the canvas in front of his home fans, as a “a big blow to the ego”.

He also revealed that he sustained the injury at the start of his UFC career in 2020 but put off surgery because he kept winning convincingly, with four first-round finishes in five fights.

Following surgery, Aspinall warned he was feeling “better than ever” and looked in the best shape of his UFC career as he weighed in at a muscular 258lb, compared to Tybura’s 246.

And he backed up his words with one of the most impressive performances of his career.

His walkout was preceded by a quote from former sparring partner Tyson Fury, broadcast over the PA system, with the WBC heavyweight champion discussing coming back from adversity.

Just seconds into the fight, Aspinall tested his surgically repaired leg to devastating effect, launching a right high-kick with rocked Tybura.

That prompted a huge reaction from the fans as Aspinall’s name rung throughout the arena.

The Pole recovered, but Aspinall’s speed was already proving to be a big advantage as he moved in landing shots, before backing off to avoid return strikes.

The defining moment came swiftly as Aspinall landed an elbow and follow-up punches which sent Tybura down, before the referee stopped the fight on the ground.

The home fighter sprinted to the cage in delight, before climbing it and raising his arms in celebration as emotion poured out.

During his post-fight interview, Aspinall signalled his intention to fight his way towards a bout with heavyweight champion Jon Jones.

“That seemed like an easy fight but Marcin is a really good guy and has won seven of his last eight. That guy is my friend and big respect for everything,” he said.

“I’m going to go to Paris, sit front row for Ciryl Gane against Sergei Spivac, I’m going to beat the winner and then I’m going to beat Jon Jones.”

Stoliarenko shocks McCann in co-main

In the co-main event, Julija Stoliarenko stunned Liverpool’s Molly McCann by winning with an armbar submission in the first round.

The Lithuanian took McCann, 33, down midway in the round before rolling through to lock in the fight-ending manoeuvre.

McCann had a remarkable first half to 2022 as two spinning elbow knockouts saw her rise into the top 15 of the UFC’s women’s flyweight division, but a first-round defeat to Erin Blanchfield in November halted her momentum.

Julija Stoliarenko celebrates her win over Molly McCann
McCann suffered her second UFC defeat in a row

The bout with Stoliarenko, 30, was finalised in February, with McCann saying the five months of preparation had helped her get into “the best shape of her life”.

But like in her defeat to Blanchfield, McCann was outdone by her opponent’s grappling as she was unable to get back to her feet before the submission was applied.

Stoliarenko jumped and screamed in joy following the win, while a dejected McCann knelt face-down in the canvas, in stark contrast.

As McCann left the arena, she could be seen saying sorry to fans as Stoliarenko enjoyed her victory inside the octagon.

Elsewhere, there were impressive wins for Scotland’s Paul Craig and Chris Duncan, with England’s Nathaniel Wood, Lerone Murphy and Mick Parkin also securing victories.

British representation on the card was rounded off by defeats for England’s Jai Herbert, Davey Grant and Danny Roberts, while Ireland’s Shauna Bannon lost by decision on her UFC debut.

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