Arnold Allen might be the most underrated talent in the Ultimate Fighting Championship’s featherweight division.
The 27-year-old Tristar Gym representative earned his eighth consecutive victory at UFC on ABC 2, taking a three-round verdict over fellow 145-pound prospect Sodiq Yusuff in Saturday’s co-main event at the UFC Apex in Las Vegas.
“Two prospects trying to break through is always going to be a tough fight,” Allen said. “It’s not like when you get a young prospect fighting an old veteran. Sometimes the prospect blows away the veteran and stakes his claim. When it’s two prospects, it’s usually a tight matchup. All respect to Sodiq. He’s tough as hell.”
On two occasions, Allen appeared to be on the verge of stopping his opponent. In the first round, “Almighty” dropped Yusuff with a counter left hand and in Round 2, he rattled the Nigerian fighter with a head kick. However, both times, Allen didn’t display enough of a killer instinct to get the finish as Yusuff was able to recover. By the time the final five minutes rolled around, Allen didn’t have enough left in the tank to close with a flourish.
“In the first, I wanted to feel his power a little bit to get his timing. He hits hard and is tough, but he is a little slow. I could see the shots coming. I was able to block them and I dropped him. I chased the finish and didn’t get it, so I ended up clinching,” Allen said. “The second round, same thing. I noticed he was dropping his hands, so I was able to put that kick through. I tried to finish him again. This dude is tough. I spent a little too much energy chasing two finishes. In the third, he came out and pressured. I fought a bit safe knowing I was two rounds ahead. I was a little bit tired from hunting the finishes. Adjustments to make for the future.”
That said, Allen acknowledges that he needs more signature moments to truly make an impact in the UFC because six of his eight triumphs have gone the distance.
“I haven’t had a knockout finish in a while,” Allen said. “I know how hard I hit, but I haven’t proven it to the world yet. I need to prove it. There was a lot of pressure on myself to get that finish.”
Some interesting figures emerged from Allen’s victory against Yusuff. He was outlanded by 26 significant strikes in victory, according to UFCStats.com. That ranks as the fifth-largest deficit for a winner in a featherweight bout in promotion history. Even with a win over a highly-touted prospect, Allen might not yet get the recognition he deserves because of the manner in which it was achieved.
“When I fight people, I don’t think they give me a lot of respect,” Allen said. “Do I get the respect off this fight? I don’t know, maybe. Whatever’s next.”
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