Jon ‘Bones’ Jones is out of his first title defense vs. Stipe Miocic at UFC 295 for the heavyweight belt he won earlier this year with a first-round submission victory over Ciryl Gane.
According to a late-night tweet from UFC President Dana White, “Jones was training last night, got injured, he was wrestling and tore the tendon that connects your pec to the bone, off the bone. [Out] 8 months, going to need surgery. He’s out.”
Therefore, for the third time in two weeks, the promotion has been forced to scramble with a second main event, in addition to the UFC 294 co-main event, falling apart at the last minute. Nevertheless, the promotion has already worked its magic and found a replacement fight.
The new UFC 295 headliner at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Nov. 11 will be for the vacant light-heavyweight belt that Jamahal Hill had to relinquish after he ruptured his Achilles tendon playing in a basketball game this past July.
Jiri Prochazka, the former 205-pound champion, will take on Alex Pereira, the former middleweight kingpin, in the new main event.
In the new UFC 295 co-main event, Tom Aspinall and Sergei Pavlovich will collide for the interim heavyweight championship. In the tweet announcing the news, White did not mention how or why Miocic will no longer be on the card.
The 31-year-old Pavlovich (18-1 MMA, 6-1 UFC) was already in camp training to serve as the backup for Jones and Miocic.
Since losing to Alistair Overeem via first-round knockout in his Octagon debut in Beijing, China, back on Nov. 24 of 2018, Pavlovich has won six straight fights with each victory coming by way of first-round KOs, including three inside of 66 seconds.
The 6-foot-3 Russian has bagged four Performance of the Night bonuses during his six-fight tear. Pavlovich’s last three victims have been Derrick ‘The Black Beast’ Lewis, Tai ‘Bam Bam’ Tuivasa and Curtis ‘Razor’ Blaydes.
Aspinall (13-3 MMA, 6-1 UFC), who is accepting this fight on merely 17 days of notice, shredded his knee 15 seconds into his main-event scrap against Blaydes on July 23 of 2022, rendering him unable to continue. That TKO defeat is the lone blemish on the 6-foot-5 Greater Manchester, England, product’s UFC resume.
The 30-year-old Aspinall made a triumphant Octagon return 364 days after injuring his knee against Blaydes this past summer. He needed only 73 seconds to dispose of veteran heavyweight Marcin Tybura via first-round KO (elbow and punches) in the UFC London headliner on July 22.
Aspinall has a 100-percent finish rate in his 16-fight career, recording 10 wins by KO and three via submissions. Before the unfortunate loss to Blaydes due to injury, Aspinall had not tasted defeat since he was disqualified for an illegal downward elbow in a fight versus Lukasz Parobiec under the BAMMA promotion on May 14 of 2016.
Aspinall won four of his first five UFC bouts in the first round. His victims included the likes of Jake Collier (45 seconds), Alan Baudot (95 seconds), Sergey Spivak (150 seconds) and Alexander Volkov.
Only Andrei Arlovski survived the first round with Aspinall before he tapped to a rear-naked choke 69 seconds into the second stanza. Aspinall has been awarded an extra $50,000 with POTN bonuses in five of his seven Octagon appearances.
The only legitimate setback of Aspinall’s career was in his fourth professional fight when he lost to Stuart Austin at BAMMA 21 via submission (heel hook) in the opening frame back on June 13 of 2015.
FanDuel opened Aspinall as a -162 favorite earlier this morning. As of 10:52 a.m. Eastern, he had been adjusted to -142 with Pavlovich as a +112 underdog.
Meanwhile, most books have Pereira (8-2 MMA, 5-1 UFC) installed as a -145 to -150 favorite vs. Prochazka, who is a +120 to +125 underdog. I’ve already bet Prochazka (29-3-1-0 MMA, 3-0 UFC) for two units at +120 underdog odds.
The 31-year-old Prochazka defeated Volkan Oezdemir via second-round KO in his Octagon debut at UFC 251 on July 12 of 2020. Then on May 1 of 2021, he captured a second-round KO (spinning back elbow) win over Dominick Reyes with a highlight-reel finish.
Prochazka won POTN honors in each of his first two UFC fights and also garnered another $50,000 for Fight of the Night honors against Reyes. That win set him up to take on Glover Teixeira, who had just won the LHW belt Jones had vacated with a win over Jan Blachowicz by second-round submission (RNC) at UFC 267.
In the UFC 275 headliner in Singapore on June 11 of 2022, Prochazka and Teixeira waged the 2022 Fight of the Year. Teixeira was ahead three rounds to one on the judges’ scorecards going into the fifth and final round, but Prochazka was able to take Glover’s back and forced him to tap to a RNC submission with just 28 seconds left in the contest.
However, Prochazka’s title reign was short lived. He was scheduled to rematch Teixeira at UFC 282 on Dec. 10 of 2022, but a shoulder injury forced him out of the fight.
With doctors initially implying Prochazka was facing an 18-month rehab, he voluntarily gave up the belt in an announcement on Nov. 23 of 2022. However, a few months after the announcement, Prochazka declared that he was way ahead of schedule with his recovery and wanted to return in 2023.
When Hill was injured, Prochazka’s wish was granted when he was booked against Pereira at UFC 295.
Pereira won his first three UFC fights, including a first-round KO win over Sean Strickland, who recently won the middleweight title away from Israel Adesanya. Pereira’s first-round KO win over Strickland came on July 2 of 2022, and it earned the Brazilian a title shot against Adesanya at UFC 281.
Pereira had recently made the transition from kickboxing to MMA. He already owned two wins over Adesanya in kickboxing. In the fifth round of his title fight with ‘The Last Stylebender’ leading on the judges’ scorecards, Pereira rocked Adesanya and then shockingly finished him with a flurry of strikes.
In the rematch at UFC 287 in Miami on April 8 of this year, Adesanya got revenge by scoring a second-round KO win over Pereira.
In the aftermath of that loss, Pereira decided to move up to 205 pounds and won a split decision over Blachowicz at UFC 291 on July 29. The victory in his LHW debut landed him a title shot.