Fighting for something much greater than UFC gold, Tom Aspinall is using his platform at UFC 295 to raise autism awareness. And it’s all thanks to Paddy McGuinness, who helped him get a diagnosis for his son.
On November 12, the talented heavyweight will take on Sergei Pavlovich for an interim championship. And it’s fair to say the fans can’t wait for the action.
But while winning the belt is fantastic from a personal perspective, it means so much more because it will give him an opportunity to secure the future of his three beloved children, a son aged seven, and two twin boys aged four.
During the Covid-19 lockdown, the loving father noticed that one of the twins had fallen slightly behind with his speech and started to wonder whether he had autism. And during a candid conversation with comedian Paddy McGuinness, he realised his son may need extra help and subsequently did his utmost to ensure he would receive a diagnosis so he could unlock the support he needed.
Paddy McGuinness offered Tom Aspinall some lovely advice
Speaking exclusively to Sporf, he said: “Autism is a bit of a tough one because I’m quite new to it. My kid is four and only been diagnosed for 18 months. So, I wouldn’t like to go around giving advice. But Paddy McGuinness gave me some great advice. He has three autistic children.
“When I met Paddy, I’d just watched his documentary on his children, and I noticed a lot of the stuff he was saying coincided with my kid’s behaviour. So, I asked him, ‘What’s the best thing to do’? He said, ‘Push for a diagnosis as much as you can, so they can start getting help’. It’s such a massive spectrum; every kid is completely different, so you need it personalised for them. But the waiting list to get a diagnosis is so long. There are so many undiagnosed kids now, it’s unreal. Luckily, I’m in a financial position where I can pay to get it fast-tracked. I know it’s really tough, but push for a diagnosis if you can.”
Tom Aspinall is delighted he has the chance to spread autism awareness
With so much love for his boy, Aspinall is absolutely thrilled with how he’s doing. While some hold misconceptions about autism, the 30-year-old’s son is a sociable child who adores making friends.
And now, with such a massive fight ahead, the Brit is overjoyed that he can be a vessel for spreading awareness.
The MMA star beamed: “I’ve just got a gum shield that says, ‘Autism awareness’ on it, which is pretty cool. I just think it needs to be accepted more. As I say, I’m pretty new to it, so I don’t like giving advice on it, because there are people out there who’ve been living with it for forty years. Some parents have brought up children, and they’re adults, and they’re still dealing with it. I’m unsure about giving advice because I’m so new to it. But I feel like it’s getting more and more popular each year, every time a kid is born. So, if I can use my platform for some kind of good, that would be nice.”
Tom Aspinall is ready for the fight of his life against Sergei Pavlovich
Having showcased speed, a sublime fighting IQ and an unrelenting will to be the best, exhibited through his unrelenting determination to return from adversity after sustaining a knee injury against Curtis Blaydes, the Atherton-born phenom is chomping at the bit to announce himself to the world inside Madison Square Garden.
Aspinall asserted: “I don’t need to tell people to tune in because they’re going to do that anyway. I think it’s the most exciting fight that the heavyweight division has come up with in years, to be honest. We’re talking about the guy with the shortest fight average in the UFC, which is me, against the guy with the second shortest fight time in the UFC, which is Pavlovich.
“That speaks for itself. We’re two massive guys who are running through everybody. So, just enjoy it.”
Featured Image Credit: Getty