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Arnold Allen Finally Got His Breakout Moment

Featherweight Prospect Arnold Allen Cemented His Place In The Top-10, And Now He Has The Top-5 In His Sights

Arnold Allen is dealing with some important business since extending his winning streak to seven in April. It isn’t training for a fight in particular, although he is staying ready for that call. In the meantime, he’s back home in Suffolk, where he has taken it upon himself to rate all of the “meal deals” one can find at the various supermarkets in England. 

“It’s just a thing at all the supermarkets,” Allen explained to UFC.com. “A value meal deal. They’ll do a main thing, a snack and a drink or something like that. I’ve just been rating them for everyone and having multiple every day. Basically, I’m gaining some weight…It’s serious business. It’s Tesco, that’s the best one. Best value, best quality.”

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Allen’s dedication to dining on a budget is commendable, and it’s certainly kept him busy as he waits for what should be his biggest fight yet. The 27-year-old is undefeated in the UFC through eight fights, and a unanimous decision win over fellow prospect Sodiq Yusuff in his most recent outing finally gave him a statement victory.Competing on the co-main slot on UFC Fight Night: Vettori vs Holland, Allen showed his technical superiority, controlling much of the tempo and distance of the fight while dropping Yusuff twice. The bout marked Allen’s first as a ranked fighter, and he wanted to make good on the rising expectations he faces each time he competes

“It’s that breakout fight I’ve been sort of wanting my whole career,” Allen said. “It definitely put my name out there a bit more. My following has doubled, so it’s all been good.”

UFC Fight Night FLASHBACK: Allen Interview With Daniel Cormier

The win sets him up for a fight against someone in the loaded Top 10 of the featherweight division. He hoped to call out “The Korean Zombie” (Chan Sung Jung) after the win until he found out Dan Ige was booked to fight him in July.

Whenever his next fight comes, and whomever it comes against, Allen might open up a little bit more to get the stoppage, which he lamented his inability to do against Yusuff.

“I think really what I need is a big finish to sort of staple myself at the top,” Allen said. “Sodiq is as tough as they come. I put him down twice, and there’s no quit in him. He just kept coming back and back. I think a lesser guy would’ve been put away, but he’s tough. He’s a tough guy.”

Arnold Allen of England punches Sodiq Yusuff of Nigeria in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)
Arnold Allen of England punches Sodiq Yusuff of Nigeria in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on April 10, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC)

Those who follow fighting closely enough know how bright Allen’s future appears. He is technically proficient everywhere in his fight, but his offensive and defensive striking ability really showed up against Yusuff. That said, Allen knows he hasn’t yet shed that “dark horse” status in the division just yet on a grand scale.

However, he picked up a knock on his left hand that is lingering a little longer than he hoped despite x-rays showing no structural damage. As he allows that hand to heal, Allen is still busy in the gym lifting weights and getting in some one-handed training with some professional boxers in the area. He hasn’t done too much MMA training, but he still gets the work in any way he can. He admitted that he probably won’t go on any spontaneous marathons like he did before the Yusuff fight, though. 

Allen often splits time between England and Quebec, Canada, training with the Tristar team, where he found an affinity for off-roading with his girlfriend in a Jeep. While he waits for that injury to heal and for a bout agreement to sign, he’s enjoying his meal deals in England (his go-to is a chicken stuffing sandwich, Boost Bar and Naked Smoothie from Tesco). However, he found himself stuck with a lowered BMW that “can’t go over a speed bump.” To amend that, Allen bought a Ford Ranger that still has signage from a garden company to take off-roading. Coincidentally, the truck also features the slogan, “Let’s get ready to rumble.”

When he isn’t kicking up mud with a car, he always represents his hometown when he can, especially when it comes to soccer (or football, depending on where you’re reading this). Allen supports Ipswich Town FC, a Championship side in his area. Recently, the club announced Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran as the shirt sponsor for the 2021-22 season, which sounds odd on its face but makes a little bit more sense considering Sheeran’s own roots.

“It’s pretty cool, to be fair,” Allen said. “He’s from here, and I don’t know how it’s going to work. I don’t know if he’s going to have his name on the shirt or his brand or something. It’s pretty cool because he’s from the town. He’s the most famous person from the town. I don’t know if there’s anyone else here that’s popular, but everyone seems to know Ed Sheeran. 

“No one knows me, but everyone knows Ed Sheeran.”

It only takes one big finish to find your name on the tip of every fan’s tongue, but what Allen really wants is a quality opponent and a big name. It eluded him for a while as injury and inactivity slowed his climb up the featherweight ladder, but with an eight-fight winning streak in tow and a number next to his name, those established contenders can’t deny him much longer. 

The featherweight division is a little on pause as it waits for champion Alexander Volkanovski and Brian Ortega to do battle after coaching against each other on The Ultimate Fighter. Max Holloway, following his otherworldy performance against Calvin Kattar to start 2021, is likely next in line for whomever wins that fight, which leaves the rest of the Top 10 in a bit of a holding pattern. Even so, Allen is exercising patience. It’s what his UFC career has been defined by so far – that, and winning. He’s firmly in the featherweight picture now, though, and he remains a name to watch as 2021 progresses.

“The division is so good,” Allen said. “There’s so many people coming through, and the Top 3, Top 5 guys are well-established. It is what it is. As long as you can keep training, keep pushing forward and getting the fights against these big names, top names and proving you deserve to be up there with the top guys, then it’s all good.”