Aspinall knocked out Sergei Pavlovich in the first round in November, becoming his nation’s third UFC champion by winning the interim heavyweight title, while Jon Jones holds the official belt.
Aspinall vs Pavlovich was arranged after Jones’s title defence against Stipe Miocic fell through on two weeks’ notice, with Jones sustaining an injury that may keep him out for a year. In situations such as these, the interim champion would typically challenge the official champion next, but the UFC has expressed a desire to rebook Jones vs Miocic.
That could leave Aspinall to defend the interim title in the meantime, in what would be a rare occurrence in the UFC. However, the retired Cormier – a former heavyweight and light-heavyweight champion – has said the 30-year-old should not have to do so.
“If Jones and Stipe are only going to fight each other, you cannot have Tom Aspinall defend the interim championship,” Cormier said on The MMA Hour this week. “Jones and Stipe don’t need the title to be on the line. They can just fight, and that’s enough. Call it ‘for the greatest of all time’. It doesn’t matter. Create a belt.”
Jones, who beat Cormier twice but had the latter win overturned due to a failed drug test, is seen as the greatest light-heavyweight of all time, while Miocic – who went 2-1 against Cormier – is the consensus best heavyweight in UFC history.
“Tom Aspinall is the guy who’s going to lead the heavyweight division for years to come, so yes, I believe that he should be the undisputed champ,” Cormier continued.
“Jones is the undisputed champion, he earned it in the Octagon by beating Ciryl Gane, but if he’s only going to fight Stipe, and that’s not for another seven months? You put Tom Aspinall as the champ, and I don’t think anybody would bat an eyelid.”
American Jones, 36, won the vacant heavyweight title by submitting Gane in March, after Francis Ngannou gave up the gold while leaving the UFC.
Forty-four-year-old Cormier, who now works as a commentator for the UFC, retired in 2020 after his second straight loss to Miocic, 41.
Cormier took the UFC heavyweight title from Miocic with a knockout in the Americans’ first clash, before Cormier returned the favour in their rematch. Miocic was then a decision winner in their trilogy fight, before Cormier retired as one of just four dual-weight champions in UFC history.
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