UFC Raleigh: The Start of a New Beginning For Arnold Allen
By James Lee
Saturday’s card in North Carolina poses a substantial question for Arnold Allen; whether a win will be meaningful in his progression in the sport or just another number on his record like some of his recent fights have been.
The UFC make no mistakes in detailing themselves as a what-have-you-done-lately business. Unfortunately for Ipswich’s Allen, he has fallen victim to that due to his inactivity.
Somebody who is on a six-fight win streak in one of the sport’s toughest divisions are usually pushed greatly up a division, especially if they are from a market outside of North America.
That hasn’t been the case for ‘Almighty’ yet.
His US debut last July on the international fight week card built traction towards his career, but it failed to materialise in a long-term sense.
The performance against Gilbert Melendez was almost flawless. A perfect, slow depiction of one of the sport’s legends in his highest pressure state yet. High praise immediately followed the contest, but it felt like it got swallowed by the awe of July’s events.
A seven-month break in action also hasn’t helped. In fairness, Allen was initially scheduled to fight #10 ranked Josh Emmett this weekend, but the Team Alpha Male fighter pulled out of the fight two weeks ago due to an undisclosed injury.
His replacement is veteran Nik Lentz, who although has held a name in the sport for a number of years, he doesn’t quite offer the boost in progression Allen perhaps wants, or deserves.
In saying that, Allen is just 25. His success on Cage Warriors and the UFC since 2013 has made him a staple in the flood of English talent, but his age must be respected.
His stable activity at his young age has probably been beneficial ultimately. Learning the sport at his pace, so he is ready to compete with the sport’s best when he gets there.
Maybe each individual win has been a relatively meaningless win to add onto his record, but the process he has established won’t be in the future.
Although he mostly goes under the radar, Allen is arguably the country’s brightest hope for a UFC title in the near future.
His talent cannot and has not been denied. A fighter who consecutively beats Makwan Amirkhani and current Cage Warriors featherweight champion Mads Burnell is clearly very talented.
Perhaps his early isolation to the yearly UFC London events halted his progression, but with his focus seemingly set on breaking the North American market, now will be the time he receives mainstream attention. What he does with it is the real question that requires an answer.
The weekend’s card specifically will garner extra attention considering it is a week after the return of Conor McGregor, which is bound to draw eyes to the sport, although a main card spot alludes Allen and Lentz.
Regardless, another win will only help his career develop. A seven-fight win streak cannot be denied.
Entertainment matters, but winning matters most. No matter how much those at the top might want to deny it, winning has to go noticed. If not, the sport would no longer exist on merit.
All Arnold Allen can do is to keep winning. Beating Nik Lentz this Saturday and continuing his rise up the featherweight rankings will one day will be worth the stalling he has experienced over recent years.