As Alan Omer hit the takedown in the third round, Arnold Allen couldn’t hide the frustration on his face. Having been called up on a couple of weeks’ notice to replace his countryman Mike Wilkinson against Omer for what would be his UFC debut, the confident swagger Allen wore to the Octagon along with his vintage ‘Arnold is Numero Uno’ shirt was all but a distant memory as he slumped against the fence.
Less than a minute later, Allen was celebrating his first UFC win. Just when all seemed lost, the Ipswich fighter locked on to an adapted guillotine and Omer had no choice but to tap. The Iraqi featherweight had enjoyed the best of the bout up until that point, but Allen never gave up. An unwavering determination is an outstanding trait for any combat athlete to have and the Englishman proved it was already a part of his arsenal at just 21-years-old.
“That was a tough fight,” he remembered his debut back in June. “I learned a lot from it. I was put in a lot of shit positions and I’ve worked a lot on the things that came up during that fight.
“I had the same kind of problems when I was in Cage Warriors as well, getting stuck on the cage for a bit, so I think people have looked at that now. They’re going to look at them old fights and try to do it themselves. I’ve worked a lot on those things and I think we’ve fixed those problems.”
A purple belt in jiu jitsu with proven knockout power in his hands, following his submission win in his UFC debut the UK MMA community held Allen aloft as one of the most promising fighters the scene had ever produced. With plenty of time on his side, many believe that Allen could eventually reach championship levels like his British predecessors, Michael Bisping and Dan Hardy. And far from being intimidated by that lofty praise, it seems to be music to Allen’s ears.
“Of course, it motivates me. My plan is to reach that championship level. If people are thinking that and saying that it’s good because it shows that they’re on the same wavelength as me,” he laughed.
Ahead of his sophomore bout as a UFC fighter, Allen has shown great enthusiasm in developing his game by adding to the European invasion that is currently taking place in the dorms of world-renowned MMA facility, Tristar Gym.
UFC London will allow the youngster to tick another one of his goals off his list as he walks out in front of the sell-out crowd in his country as a UFC fighter, and he is very confident that the four months of preparation he has had in Montreal will make a big impact on his all-around game.
“There are a lot of guys travelling over to here from Europe. There are always a lot of top-level guys coming through. We’ve got guys that are already out here like Tom Breese and Joe Duffy—they’re living over here now—and Joanne Calderwood has just come over as well.
“My confidence has definitely come on a lot, but, more importantly, my skillset has broadened. I’m sparring with better people every day and I’m noticing the results. For a while, I was the only guy signed to the UFC in my gym so I had to spar a lot of amateurs and that made me unsure if I was on this level.
“In Tristar, every round I do is with someone that’s in the UFC or has been with another top promotion and that’s been amazing. It’s been really good, it’s kind of been like a reality check to see where I’m at and what I needed to improve on.”
While British MMA fans were still celebrating his big win in Poland, Allen was giving his first post-fight interview and promising that the international fans still had his knockout power to look forward to.
Having seen off Omer, an established pro with over 20 fights, Allen has been rewarded with a contest with Yaotzin Meza, whose veteran career has seen him compete in over 30 MMA bouts. Although it might seem daunting given Allen’s youth, the 22-year-old is well aware that these are the challenges that he needs to get through is he wants to be a UFC champion.
“I think he could be a good opponent for that. He uses a lot of the techniques that could put me in areas where I’ve struggled before. He’s good at grinding fights out and I’ve been working on things to counter that. It’s a blessing that I’m fighting him because I had to work on those things anyway, but being matched with him will allow me to test how much I’ve progressed in an actual fight.”
“The fact that he has a lot of experience is great, they’re the kind of fights that I want. I don’t want to be like some other people, I won’t name any names, that have been fed cans in the UFC. I want to fight the best guys. Eventually, I want to work my way right to the top. I want to be the champion one day. Wherever this path takes me, I want to prove myself.”
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