Tom Aspinall stopped Sergei Pavlovich in the first round to win the interim UFC heavyweight title in New York.
The 30-year-old landed two quick left-right combinations to finish the Russian inside 69 seconds in front of a sold-out Madison Square Garden.
He becomes only the third British UFC title holder in history, after Michael Bisping (middleweight) and Leon Edwards (welterweight).
The interim title fight was a late addition to the card after Jon Jones tore a pectoral tendon off the bone during training late last month. He needed surgery, and his heavyweight title defence against Stipe Miocic at the Garden was called off.
Aspinall stepped in on just 17 days’ notice. Pavlovich, already on call as the understudy for the headliner, had no qualms about squaring up, either. But after this latest defeat, the knockout artist must reassess his championship credentials.
Aspinall thought as much after the fight. He collapsed in tears on the canvas and made an emotional speech to the crowd.
He stated: “The ‘UK guy’ is the world champion. I’m the best in the world now.”
Jones might have beef with that decree, and fortunately for him, Aspinall is eyeing him up as his next opponent.
“Give me my dream fight,” he said. “Let me fight for my legacy, please.”
UFC CEO Dana White thinks Jones will face Miocic before Aspinall’s wishes are answered.
“That’s the fight they want, that’s the fight that makes sense, that’s the fight that should happen,” White said.
Depending on Jones’ health, the bout could be rescheduled for as early as next summer. But should either fighter step out of the action, Aspinall will be waiting to cement his heavyweight title record further.