Heavyweight fights are often a flip of the coin, but in the upcoming UFC interim heavyweight title fight Jailton Almeida has a favorite.
After the cancellation of the UFC heavyweight title fight between Jon Jones and Stipe Micocic, which was supposed to headline UFC 295 on Nov. 11, the promotion booked an interim title fight pitting Sergei Pavlovich against Tom Aspinall.
Almeida (19-2 MMA, 5-0 UFC) thinks Pavlovich is going to win that fight, given that he was supposed to be the backup for Jones-Miocic, and was already training for that date.
“Jon Jones’ injury ones up opportunities, and now we have Tom Aspinall vs. Pavlovich,” Almeida said through an interpreter at Wednesday’s UFC Fight Night 231 media day. “As far as who I see as the favorite, I think Tom Aspinall didn’t have the mentality that he was going to fight for the belt. Actually, after his fight, he said he wanted Ciryl Gane.
“Meanwhile, Pavlovich is a guy that had his mind focused on fighting for the belt, and he was serving as backup and was doing a full camp. I think I’ll favor Pavlovich. He’s the guy with the full camp, and Aspinall was just training to train. He wasn’t mentally ready for a title fight. He wasn’t thinking about the title.”
Almeida returns to the cage this Saturday to take on Derrick Lewis in the main event of UFC Fight Night 231, which takes place at Ginasio Do Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo, and streams on ESPN+.
He believes a win over Lewis (27-11 MMA, 18-9 UFC) could get him a shot at the belt or a title eliminator bout. Almeida also mentioned how he was bummed to hear about Jones’ injury, as he wants that fight in the future.
“I maybe do worry a little about not achieving my dream of fighting against Jon Jones,” Almeida said regarding Jones’ torn pectoral. “I’ve said it in interviews that my dream is to fight Jon Jones.
“However, I’m also happy for the opportunities to fight for the title that get opened up now. Jon Jones is out and now Tom Aspinall is fighting Sergei Pavlovich. If I beat Derrick Lewis on Saturday, I could be next or maybe they make me do one more. There’s a lot going on in the division, but it might open up opportunities.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC Fight Night 231.