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Interim UFC heavyweight champion Tom Aspinall doesn’t expect to share a cage with Jon Jones anytime soon.

The Briton defeated Sergey Pavlovich in New York in November to claim the interim title after Jones withdrew from a title defence against Stipe Miocic, citing a pectoral injury sustained in preparation. Since then, Aspinall has vocally campaigned for a showdown with Jones to contest the promotion’s undisputed championship, arguing that it should be he — and not Miocic — who be next in line for Jones.

But after coming face-to-face with Jones at an event in Birmingham, UK last weekend, Aspinall doesn’t believe that the UFC’s heavyweight champion would ever be convinced to put it all on the line against him, even if his interim championship suggests a title bout should be imminent.

“We were at the same event so obviously it makes sense for me, we’ve got the interim champion and the undisputed champion at the same event,” Aspinall told JN Media of the meeting, as noted by MMA Fighting. “But it’s a bit weird that there’s an undisputed champion and an interim champion, because undisputed means no one can dispute it, but if there’s another champion, I don’t know, it’s a little bit weird the way it works. It was good, we had a little chat, it was all good.

“I think he thought I was putting a hand on his shoulder being disrespectful, but I wasn’t,” Aspinall added. “I wasn’t there to be disrespectful. I was doing it in a friendly way. I’m not going to cause more beef. I’m trying to fight the guy and take his belt, that’s what I want. I have no beef against the guy. To me it’s just friendly, nothing crazy.”

That said, Aspinall says that the vibe he received from the champion makes him believe that he would never sign a bout agreement to fight him — a situation he indicates he is at peace with.

“No, because I don’t think he’s going to fight me anyway,” Aspinall said. “I’d be very, very surprised if me and Jon Jones ever stepped in the octagon together. I’m trying to get the fight, but I’m not trying to get it realistically. I’m trying to have a bit of fun and see what he’s all about.

“Like, today, I don’t expect the fight to be off the back of this, because in all honesty I don’t think the UFC is going to go for it and I don’t think Jon Jones is going to go for it either, so I’m not deflated at all because I wasn’t expecting the fight anyway.”

And if not Jones, then who?

“Curtis Blaydes it is then,” he said. “I’m easy, I’m the easiest person ever to entice into a fight. I’ve never turned one down yet. So anything that’s stopping me from fighting right now is not down to me, it’s down to the UFC. So I’m just waiting for the UFC to let me know who and when and I’ll be ready.”