Tom Aspinall is already eyeing a homecoming fight in 2024.
The UFC star from Atherton became the interim heavyweight champion with a sensational knockout win over Sergei Pavlovich at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night.
During his post-fight press conference, Aspinall implored Jon Jones to skip over a legacy bout with Stipe Miocic and find out who is the best heavyweight in MMA instead.
If that matchup comes off, the 30-year-old wants it to take place at the AO Arena in Manchester, despite talk of Wembley Stadium hosting the UFC’s next UK event.
“For me, it’s the Manchester Arena, 100 per cent,” Aspinall told talkSPORT.com and other reporters during a virtual scrum on Wednesday.
“The stadium fight would be great, of course, but I’m a Manchester guy so I would love it [my next fight] to be in Manchester.”
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The AO Arena holds 21,000 people but will soon be rivalled by Co-Op Live – a new indoor venue in Manchester that will be capable of holding 23,000 fans when it opens next April.
Aspinall will fight in either, but he has his heart set on headlining a card in his home city after taking multiple trips to London, Abu Dhabi and America during his UFC career.
He added: “I know they are building a new arena as well, which is going to be next to The City Ground and is going to be bigger than the Manchester Arena.
“So, if we could do that at some point next year, that would be absolutely insane.”
UFC CEO Dana White has hesitated to book a UK stadium show but seemed to be coming around to the idea after Aspinall joined Leon Edwards as an active champion in MMA’s premier promotion.
“Yeah, I could,” he said when talkSPORT.com asked if he would be open to the idea of promoting a British stadium show at the UFC 295 post-fight press conference.
“I love the O2 [Arena] but we’ll see. We’ll see how [Aspinall] progresses and what happens.
“It’s pretty awesome to have a heavyweight champion from the UK.”
While a stadium show is now in play, it appears Aspinall will be pushing his bosses to bring an event to the North West for the first time since UFC Liverpool in May 2018.
The new champion will enjoy some well-deserved downtime with his family before returning to the Octagon – hopefully against Jones in Manchester – early next year.