Who is Tom Aspinall? Meet the rapid, 120kgs heavyweight who spars Tyson Fury and trains with Darren Till

Towards the end of his conversation over the phone with talkSPORT, Tom Aspinall appeared to leave the chat and disappear.

As voices in the background gradually began to intensify, the fear the heavyweight contender had been disconnected subsided.

It transpires Aspinall was simply collecting his room service and his somewhat embarrassed apology brought about a hearty chuckle.

Needless to say, the interview was concluded pretty quickly to let him tuck into his dinner.

For those listening in, it may have just sounded like an ordinary chat between two mates while one is on their holiday.

Yet Aspinall is not your average bloke, he was born to be a fighter.

Who is Tom Aspinall? Meet the rapid, 120kgs heavyweight who spars Tyson Fury and trains with Darren Till

Tom Aspinall is a fighting man through and through

Standing at 6ft 6ins and weighing a whopping 248lbs (17 stone 7lbs) Aspinall began to learn martial arts at the age of just seven.

His father, Andy, owns and operates Aspinall BJJ. Although the club initially started in Bolton, there are centres across the North-West of England and it’s fair to say it lit a fire in young Tom.

He said: “When I first started competing I think I was about 17 or 18, but I’ve been involved with martial arts basically all my life.

“I got involved with traditional martial arts really when I was about 7 and then I did that for a few years, but then I wanted to go into more contact sports.

Who is Tom Aspinall? Meet the rapid, 120kgs heavyweight who spars Tyson Fury and trains with Darren Till

Aspinall is a black belt in BJJ, thanks to his father and working at Team Kaobon

“So I did boxing for a bit, competed for a bit in that, then I did Thai Boxing. I competed in that for a bit, then I wrestled and competed in that and then I did Jiu-Jitsu.

“So I did a bit of everything and I always had my hand in doing something, or doing two things at once. But, for me, I would just go where the competitions were at; I’m all about competing and I love to compete.

“So wherever the most competition was, that’s the sport I would do. When I was about 17 or 18, I had kind of done everything and I was decent at everything so it was like a natural progression to want to do MMA.”

Modesty and honesty are two traits which Aspinall possesses in equal measure. After obtaining his black belt in BJJ, he switched to boxing and scored a knockout in his first professional bout after just 84 seconds.

Who is Tom Aspinall? Meet the rapid, 120kgs heavyweight who spars Tyson Fury and trains with Darren Till

The 27-year-old is comfortable on the feet or on the deck

Having amassed a 5-2 record in MMA, with all of his wins coming in the first round, boxing seemed to be where his future lay.

Then, at the age of just 22, he was hired by lineal heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury to act as a sparring partner and the ‘Gypsy King’ changed his life.

He added: “That was brilliant, it completely changed my mindset spending a lot of time with Tyson because he takes it for what it is.

“He doesn’t take stuff too serious, he doesn’t go in there with his ego and all that kind of stuff so for a young man, I think I was about 22 at the time, it was just good to be around someone like that.

Who is Tom Aspinall? Meet the rapid, 120kgs heavyweight who spars Tyson Fury and trains with Darren Till

Fury is the WBC heavyweight champion and has sparred with Aspinall before

“Because he had a sort of mature approach; like I say, he wasn’t taking it too serious – it wasn’t life or death for him.

“He’s just going in there and he’s just enjoying it. Since I went to boxing, I feel like that kind of changed my mindest completely to how I look at competing.

“I don’t see it as life or death; I just see it as something that I enjoy. If I win, I win and if I lose, I lose and that’s it, I just enjoy it.”

Eventually, the politics involved in boxing and his love for martial arts drew him back to MMA.

Who is Tom Aspinall? Meet the rapid, 120kgs heavyweight who spars Tyson Fury and trains with Darren Till

Aspinall is cool, calm and collected – but dangerous

“For me, it’s just kind of been like a way of life,” he said. “It’s just something that we have always done, we’ve just trained.

“It’s all I know basically, I’ve always done Jiu-Jitsu a bit on the side and even when I was involved in boxing, I was still doing Jiu-Jitsu.

“It’s something that I always enjoy doing, something I will always do whether I am competing or not. I just love to do Jiu-Jitsu.”

Training out of Team Kaobon in Liverpool alongside Darren Till and Mike Grundy, the 27-year-old is rapidly improving all the time and learning at an incredible pace.

Who is Tom Aspinall? Meet the rapid, 120kgs heavyweight who spars Tyson Fury and trains with Darren Till

Darren Till and Aspinall after a gruelling session at Team Kaobon

With head coach Colin Heron guiding him, he fought twice in British promotion Cage Warriors in 2019. He won both in a combined two minutes and 17 seconds.

With heavyweight options at domestic level looking slim, Aspinall joined Till and Grundy in the UFC and makes his debut on Fight Island against Jake Collier.

‘The Gorilla’ is fighting former middleweight champion Robert Whittaker in the main event, but urged fans to keep an eye on Aspinall and to not blink when his hands start moving.

He told talkSPORT.com: “I train with him on a daily basis and I struggle with him, even in my department where I am a master at in striking.

Who is Tom Aspinall? Meet the rapid, 120kgs heavyweight who spars Tyson Fury and trains with Darren Till

Head coach Colin Heron and Mike Grundy will also do their best to guide Apsinall

“He is such a fast guy for a heavyweight, you’ll hear everyone who trains with him or sees him saying it. He is so fast for a heavyweight and he dances around like nothing I’ve seen before.

“I can only speak from what I have seen in the gym and from his preparation – that’s all been 100 per cent and perfect like his diet.

“But, it’s all down to him now, how he performs, it’s not down to me or down to Colin – it’s all on him. He’s got to go out there and do well, he’s got to perform.

“Even if he goes out there and it’s a three-round masterclass between both of them and he wins or loses, he has just got to go out there and show the world and Dana White why he deserves to be here.

Who is Tom Aspinall? Meet the rapid, 120kgs heavyweight who spars Tyson Fury and trains with Darren Till

Till faces Whittaker this Saturday night on Fight Island

“And I truly believe he does deserve it, so it’s all on him now. I’ve got nothing to do with the man anymore; he’s going out there on Saturday for himself and his family.

“I cannot wait to watch him while I’m in the back getting warm.”

A quick YouTube search on Apsinall will pull up various different highlight reels filled with knockouts from his days in Cage Warriors and his one professional boxing bout.

Amidst the tinny din of Europop trash smothered over the video highlights, the speed and power of Aspinall is truly terrifying for a man of his size.

talkSPORT’s Alex McCarthy checks out Darren Till’s open workout at the new UFC gym in Nottingham

And the Salford-native thinks that is exactly why he could be *the* heavyweight sensation to watch out for in the UFC.

He concluded: “No I think you’re right, that is what sets me apart from the other heavyweights is the fact that my speed is unseen for a guy who is six foot six and 120 kilos.

“I’ve sparred with a lot of people and I’ve watched a lot of heavyweights and no one has the speed that I have.

“That’s not me bigging myself up, it’s me being honest. I’ve never sparred with anyone anywhere near as fast as I am.”

As with the room service palaver midway through the phone call, Apsinall’s honesty is genuine and endearing.

One thing is for certain; when the Lancashire lad gets those hands moving (or when his dinner arrives), best clear a path.

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