Aspinall triumphs in return with TKO of Tybura

Tom Aspinall returns to UFC with ‘fairy-tale’ TKO in London (1:10)

Tom Aspinall finishes Marcin Tybura within the first 90 seconds of the first round of the main event. (1:10)

  • Marc Raimondi, ESPN Staff WriterJul 22, 2023, 06:51 PM ET

Almost one year ago to the day, in the same arena, Tom Aspinall suffered a freak knee injury when he threw a leg kick on the first strike of his fight against Curtis Blaydes and lost via TKO in just 15 seconds.

After 364 days of recovery and preparation, Aspinall was back at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday, the main event of a UFC Fight Night. And his comeback performance was as good as it gets.

Aspinall stopped fellow heavyweight contender Marcin Tybura via TKO at 1 minute, 13 seconds of the first round in his return fight from surgery in his home country. Aspinall rocked Tybura early with a right head kick, showing off his confidence with his knee, and put him down with a right hand shortly after.

Aspinall followed with punches, and referee Marc Goddard stepped in to call the stoppage.

“It’s been a really tough year for me,” said Aspinall, who tore his right MCL and meniscus and damaged his ACL against Blaydes on July 23, 2022. “I wasn’t myself last year. This was a whole new version of me. … I’m different now. My mind is different, my body is different. And I’m going all the way.”

ESPN has Aspinall ranked No. 5 in the world at heavyweight. UFC president Dana White said coming into this bout that Aspinall could be close to a title shot with a victory. Aspinall mapped out his plan immediately after knocking out Tybura. He said he would travel to UFC Paris on Sept. 2 to watch heavyweights Ciryl Gane and Serghei Spivac fight in the main event. Aspinall said he would fight and beat the winner of that fight.

“And then I’m gonna beat [heavyweight champion] Jon Jones,” Aspinall said.

Jones does have to get by former two-time champion Stipe Miocic at UFC 295 on Nov. 11 before that potential matchup, though.

In any case, after one year away due to his devastating injury, Aspinall has cemented himself as one of the top heavyweights in the world.

Aspinall (13-3) has won nine of his past 10 fights, with the loss to Blaydes — his only defeat in the UFC — his only blemish. The Manchester area native has six finishes since the beginning of 2020, the most in the heavyweight division during that time, according to ESPN Stats and Information research. The only fighter in the UFC who has more finishes in that stretch is Kevin Holland.

Aspinall, 30, has finished all six of his UFC wins, five of them in the first round. He now has the shortest average fight time in UFC history, with a minimum of five fights (2:19).

Tybura (24-8) had a two-fight winning streak snapped. The Poland native has won seven of his past nine fights. Tybura, 37, was coming off a unanimous decision win over Blagoy Ivanov in February.