Tom Aspinall is the prototypical modern MMA heavyweight. He’s big, at 6-foot-5 and over 250 pounds but very athletic, and is as good on the ground as he is on his feet. He’s got a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
Aspinall, though, has something going for him that could prove to be the difference in his fight with Alexander Volkov on Saturday (4 p.m. ET, ESPN+) at UFC London inside O2 Arena.
Aspinall spent time working out with WBC boxing heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. And while Aspinall told Yahoo Sports that Fury helped him technique-wise, the biggest assistance he got was from a mental standpoint.
Fury is a winner, and has a unique outlook on fighting. And Aspinall has absorbed that and his confidence has gone though the roof since his first-round stoppage of Sergey Spivak in September.
Aspinall, fighting at home in England, is a slight favorite at BetMGM over the sixth-ranked Volkov, who represents by far the biggest challenge of his career. Aspinall is -130 to win, while Volkov is +110.
The stats all favor Aspinall. He averages 7.19 strikes landed per minute, compared to 4.86 for Volkov. Aspinall, at 65 percent, has the better striking accuracy, with Volkov at 57%. And Aspinall’s striking defense is 70% compared to Volkov’s 54%.
But on the ground, Aspinall excels. too. He averages 2.73 takedowns per 15 minutes compared to 0.53 for Volkov.
Also in Aspinall’s favor is the fact that Volkov had two cases of COVID-19 recently. While he’s healthy now, many fighters have talked about how long it takes after having COVID to feel normal, so if Aspinall pushes the pace, there’s a chance that Volkov could gas out earlier.
So with all of that in mind, I’m going to make two plays on Aspinall. I will lay two units on him to win at -130, meaning I’ll risk $260 for the chance to make a $200 profit. And I’ll also bet one unit on him to win by KO/TKO or DQ at +175. I’ll risk $100 looking for that $175 profit.
If Aspinall wins by KO, I’d wind up then with a $375 profit. If he wins by decision or submission, I’d make $100. And if he loses, I’d be out $300. I like my chances there.
Other bets for UFC London
• I like Muhammad Mokaev to win over Cody Durden, but he’s -400 and I don’t want to lay that. I think Mokaev will get a finish, I’m going to bet two units -160 that the fight does not go the distance. Thus, I’ll risk $320 with the potential to win $200.
• I will play Paul Craig at +155 to win over Nikita Krylov, who is a -190 favorite.
• In the co-main event, I like Dan Hooker at even money to win over Arnold Allen. I’ll also lay the -140 and bet that the fight goes the distance.
• I’ll take Timur Valiev at -120 to win over Jack Shore, who is even money.