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‘Next year I’ll fight for the title:’ UFC St. Louis’ Robelis Despaigne sees rapid rise at heavyweight

Robelis Despaigne is perhaps the most intriguing prospect in the heavyweight division.

After a long and successful career as a Taekwondo black belt, including winning an Olympic bronze medal, Cuba’s Despaigne made the transition to mixed martial arts (MMA) in June 2022. “The Big Boy” has had an absurdly fast career so far, racking up five wins without losses and his last four fights lasting a combined 37 seconds with knockout finishes.

Despaigne, 35, is aiming for win No. 6 if he fights Waldo Cortes-Acosta at UFC St. Louis this weekend (Sat., May 11, 2024). The Cuban believes the victory will continue his rapid momentum and ultimately culminate in a title fight sooner or later.

“Look, if everything goes according to plan, I think I’ll be fighting for the UFC heavyweight title, or at least the interim title, early next year,” Despaigne told MMA Junkie.

Before Despaigne can challenge for gold, he will of course have to get past Cortes-Acosta, but the top of the heap still needs to be sorted. Undisputed champion, Jon Joneshas yet to defend his title and is expected to do so against former titlist, Stipe Miocic, upon his return later this year. In the meantime, Tom Aspinall holds the intermediate band, which presumably will give him a shot at the winner.

From Despaigne’s perspective, he expects that Aspinall will ultimately be the one to come out on top. Until he gets his chance, of course.

“That’s a close fight, but if it’s a matter of momentum, I think Aspinall can pull it off and win the crown,” Despaigne said. “But we know the quality of Jon Jones, so he can always surprise.

“For me it would be a dream to become a UFC champion, and it would make me proud,” he concluded.

LIVE! Stream UFC St. Louis on ESPN+

HEAVYWEIGHT SHOWDOWN! Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) returns to the Enterprise Center in St. Louis, Missouri for the first time since 2018 on Saturday, May 11, 2024, with an exciting heavyweight showdown as the fan favorite and No. 12 ranked heavyweight contender, Derrick Lewisfaces no. 15-seeded Rodrigo Nascimento. In the co-main event of UFC St. Louis, No. 12 on the light heavyweight rankings, Alonzo Menifieldassumes Carlos Ulberg.

Don’t miss a single action-packed second!


MMAmania.com will provide LIVE round-by-round coverage of the entire UFC St. Louis fight card HEREstarting with ESPN/ESPN+ preliminary card fights at 4:00 PM ET, followed by the ESPN/ESPN+ main card start time at 7:00 PM ET.

To check out the latest and greatest news and commentary from UFC St. Louis, check out our extensive event archive here And here. For the updated and definitive “Lewis vs. Nascimento” fight card and ESPN/ESPN+ queue up click here.