Arnold Allen knows that former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez is the toughest fight of his young career, but he is also confident that a win over the veteran could push him into a prominent place for next year’s UFC London card.
It’s Allen’s first fight on an International Fight Week event and his first bout on U.S. soil and he is enjoying being part of the UFC’s flagship week in Las Vegas.
“It feels good,” Allen told MMA Fighting. “It’s a bit of a different experience; the event is bigger and a lot more people are talking about it. Being part of it is pretty cool, but it’s business as usual, really.”
The Tristar fighter’s 5-0 record with the UFC seems to have flown under the radar internationally, but Allen insists that he prefers to be “low-key”.
“Maybe I should I be on more peoples’ radars, but maybe not too. You know, I don’t really talk a lot of crap and I don’t really post a lot on social media; all I post is pictures of my jeep and silly sh*t. And I haven’t been the most active either, so that’s another reason. But, I like it, I like being low-key.”
The Englishman highlighted his respect for Melendez, but also claimed that it’s a good time to be fighting him given his recent inactivity and the four-fight skid he rides into the contest.
“Getting a big win over a big name has always been part of my plan, ever since day one. I think if I get a win here I’m going to be in against the bigger boys; I’ll be in the Big Boys Club,” he quipped.
“I definitely enjoy watching Gilbert fight, who doesn’t like watching him fight? I’ve always loved a good brawl. I wouldn’t go as far as saying I looked up to him, but I always loved watching his fights as a fan. I feel like it’s definitely a good time to be facing him, but at the same time, I’m preparing myself for prime Gilbert Melendez. It’s not like I think I’m going in there against some withered old man.”
“He’s on a different level to everyone else I’ve ever fought, but I think that’s what’s best for me,” he added. “I think that’s going to bring the best out of me. I always perform to the level of my opponents. Even in the gym I can surprise myself when I’m in there with beasts, but then I can get a really competitive spar from an amateur because I can switch off a little bit.”
With the recent retirements of U.K. stalwarts Jimi Manuwa and Ross Pearson, Allen believes a win over Melendez will open him up to a prominent fight against a ranked opponent at next year’s UFC London card.
“That London card has been crossing my mind. I have thought about and I have thought about where the scene in the U.K. is at. If everything goes according to plan I should be top-15 at least. Someone in that realm up there would be ideal; someone in the top-10 or top 15.”