Almost as if combat was woven into his DNA, Aspinall said he’s always carried an inexplicable drive and level of confidence that he’d arrive here someday. Normally characterized as laid back and maybe even a little quiet, when the spotlight appears on the canvas and Tom is standing in it, he feels at home.

Although the goal to undeniably become the best in the world has remained the same, it hasn’t always been easy. The heavyweight struggled to find opponents throughout his amateur and pre-UFC professional career. He was training to make ends meet in fights that weren’t guaranteed, and ones that often fell through.

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Lucky enough to have the unwavering support of his family, even at the lowest points, Tom has always been able to listen to the voice, albeit sometimes faint, inside that told him “I could do it. I always knew I could do it.”

A true student of the sport, Aspinall knows he has a lot of experience to gain on his rise to the top. He’s different in that way. After all, very few fighters reflect on their first loss with a smile and the humility to say they “enjoyed the lessons” brought forth by defeat.

The path to the top, to him, is clear: he’s taking it slow, lapping up experience and lessons wherever he can get them, because “when I get there, I want to have a really good go at winning the title, and stay up there.”