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Arnold Allen of England poses for a portrait backstage during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Mike Roach/Zuffa LLC)
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Arnold Allen Chases Title Contention

Arnold Allen Hopes A Win Over Undefeated Movsar Evloev At UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis Puts Him Right Back Into The Feather Title Picture

England’s Arnold Allen is coming off the most devastating loss of his career: a unanimous decision defeat against Max Holloway in April 2023.

It was only the second loss of Allen’s career, and his first since 2014. A win over the former champion nearly guaranteed Allen a shot at the UFC featherweight title. Now, Allen will need to get past a highly touted, undefeated prospect who shares a similar goal.

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Despite sharing the Octagon for 25 minutes with one of the greatest fighters the division’s ever seen, “Almighty” wasn’t happy at all with his performance. He did, however, gain more confidence that he’s capable of being at the top of a stacked 145-pound division.

“I lost, so zero benefit,” Allen said reflecting on his loss to Holloway. “It hurts. Definitely [gave me] more motivation, it fuels the fire a bit more, just knowing that I can do better.

Arnold Allen | Greatest Hits
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Arnold Allen | Greatest Hits
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“I am up there with those elite guys. I know I can push the pace with someone who has notorious cardio, a five-round cardio king like Max, and knowing I can chase him and push the pace. And knowing there’s more to build on and that I can do better.”

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The one thing Allen needed to put the loss behind him was to get right back into training and begin preparing for a new opponent. After nine, grueling months in the gym, Allen returns to the Octagon at UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis in Toronto, where he’ll challenge 17-0 Movsar Evloev.

“It’s been a rough one, the boys have been trying to kill me,” Allen said regarding his training camp for Evloev. “I’ve had some killers coming in week in, week out and it’s been rough… I survived and I’m here, so I’m feeling good about that.”

“I took about two weeks off [after the fight with Max] driving across the U.S., eating, getting fat and fueling my depression. I didn’t really take any time off, just that. As soon as I was back to training, I was ready to go. I love training, I live for it.”

Arnold Allen of England celebrates his victory over Calvin Kattar in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX
Arnold Allen of England celebrates his victory over Calvin Kattar in a featherweight fight during the UFC Fight Night event at UFC APEX on October 29, 2022 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC)

Less than a month after Allen fought Holloway, Evloev also endured one of his toughest tests inside the Octagon. At UFC 288: Sterling vs Cejudo, the undefeated featherweight took on promotional newcomer Diego Lopes on short notice.

UFC 297 Main Event Breakdown With Brendan Fitzgerald & Sayif Saud

Lopes, who’s now become a fan-favorite for his electrifying finishes over Gavin Tucker and Pat Sabatini, held his own against Evloev despite it being his UFC debut. Allen didn’t take much away from the fight, which Evloev ultimately won by decision, due to the circumstances behind the matchup.

“You can’t take a lot away from it,” Allen said regarding Evloev’s fight with Lopes. “It was very close, but it was also last minute for both of them, so a change of opponent, change of styles, preparation isn’t the same. It was just a fun fight.”

“[Lopes and I have] completely different styles. He has that old-school jiu-jitsu style where he’ll fire up submissions from his back. That’s not something I’m looking to do [against Evloev].”

Arnold Allen trains at Team Renegade in Birmingham, England, on September 24, 2022. (Photo by Zac Pacleb/Zuffa LLC)
(Photo by Zac Pacleb/Zuffa LLC)

While letting Evloev into his guard to throw up triangles isn’t Plan A for “Almighty” this Saturday, he’s excited at the opportunity to showcase more than just his striking. As of late, Allen has primarily stood toe-to-toe with his opponents, because that’s all he needed to do. Evloev poses a completely different challenge.

While all seven of his UFC bouts were won by decision, Evloev surpassed eight minutes of control time in two of his last three fights.

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“I’m pretty adaptable, I think that’s one of my biggest attributes,” Allen said. “I think most people know me as a striker… I love to strike and box. If I’m fighting a striker, I want to out-strike him. I trained with some top grapplers [and] wrestlers for a long time now. I have a full MMA arsenal. I’m not just a boxer, I can do everything, and this is an opportunity to show that.”

Not only is the matchup itself intriguing, but the stakes also couldn’t be higher. With UFC President Dana White announcing that Justin Gaethje will defend his BMF title against Max Holloway at UFC 300, a win over Evloev puts Allen among the few in contention to challenge the winner of Alexander Volkanovski versus Ilia Topuria in February.

“He’s undefeated, he’s a top prospect,” Allen said. “He’s someone people are touting to be in the title picture in the future. A win over him puts me back into that title picture myself, I believe, so it’s a very exciting task.”

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UFC 297: Strickland vs Du Plessis took place live from Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on January 20, 2024. See the Final Results, Official Scorecards and Who Won Bonuses - and relive the action on UFC Fight Pass