England’s Arnold Allen has big plans to earn a shot at the UFC featherweight title, and hopes that a statement-making win over the division’s former champion will get him there.
Allen will take on Max Holloway in the main event of UFC Fight Night in Kansas City, Missouri on April 15 in a bout that could propel him from fringe contender to legitimate title threat.
It’s a matchup that will see Allen step up to the highest echelon of the division as he takes on a man who held the 145-pound title for two and a half years, and has a resume packed with wins over stellar opposition, including former UFC champions Charles Oliveira, Anthony Pettis, Jose Aldo (twice), and Frankie Edgar.
Holloway has lost to only one man at 145 pounds – reigning featherweight champion Alexander Volkanovski – since his August 2013 defeat to Conor McGregor, and the Hawaiian remains a fixture at the top of the UFC’s featherweight rankings.
But Allen plans on adding his name to that short list of fighters to have beaten “Blessed” at 145 pounds, and said that a career spent watching him at the top of his own weight class is all the research he needs ahead of their matchup.
“As a featherweight, I’ve always watched Max, he’s very exciting,” he told reporters backstage at UFC 286 in London.
“Everyone enjoys his fights. He seems like a cool guy, too. I haven’t bothered really watching him at all (in camp) because what’s the point? I know what he does, he’s gonna throw about a million punches, kicks, knees, and elbows.
“He’s going to try and take my head off. He’s gonna keep peppering me like I’m a German sausage or something. I know what he’s gonna do, so I don’t need to watch it. And I know what I need to do to get a win. All I’m doing is working on that.”
Allen has blasted his way up the featherweight rankings to the number three spot, thanks to a 12-fight win streak that has seen him defeat the likes of Makwan Amirkhani, Gilbert Melendez, Nik Lentz, Dan Hooker, and Calvin Kattar. Now on the cusp of the title picture, he knows that a win over the former champ and current number-one contender is the best way to earn a shot at the belt.
“If you want to be world champion, you have to beat the number one guys. And for me, outside of the champion, Max Holloway is the number one guy, right?’ he said.
“I don’t think there were really any other guys who called Max Holloway out. And, you know, respectfully, I was asking for that fight. That was the fight that made sense to me. And fortunately, we got it. I don’t think anyone else is sitting there going, ‘Can I have Max Holloway, please?’”
It’s undoubtedly the biggest bout of Allen’s 20-fight pro-MMA career, and the 19-1 Englishman said he’s ready to relish the challenge of facing one of the UFC’s modern-day legends as he prepares to face Holloway on April 15.
“We’re doing everything right, and mentally I feel fantastic,” he said.
“You know, it’s an opportunity of a lifetime. He’s a very dangerous guy, he’s beat a lot of top contenders and he’s beaten them very well.
“He’s been world champion. He’s been pound-for-pound number one. He’s stepped up to lightweight and had wars with people like Dustin Poirier, and stuff like that. So I’m very excited for the opportunity to challenge someone like that and show what I’m able to do.”