‘I’m going to be prepared for every scenario’ - Allen on fight with ‘tough lad’ Melendez at TUF 28 Finale
PUBLISHED: 17:38 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:38 11 October 2018
PA Wire/PA Images
Suffolk’s mixed martial arts prodigy Arnold Allen says he’s preparing for any scenario in his Las Vegas debut against legend of the sport Gilbert Melendez next month.
Trimley St Martin’s Allen, 24, is unbeaten in his four fights so far in the world-famous UFC, but faces his biggest test to date when he squares off with Melendez at The Ultimate Fighter 28 Finale at the Pearl at the Palms Casino on November 30.
Melendez (22-7 MMA, 1-5 UFC) is a former Strikeforce and WEC champion, and challenged Anthony Pettis for the UFC lightweight title at UFC 181 in December 2014, losing by guillotine choke in the second round.
He last fought in September 2017, losing on points to perennial featherweight contender Jeremy Stephens.
A win over such a well-known and respected foe as Melendez would surely catapult Allen (13-1 MMA, 4-0 UFC) into the world’s top 15 featherweight rankings for the first time – and set up some huge fights for him in 2019.
But it will be no easy task – Melendez, 36, is known for being exceptionally tough and durable, and has only lost to the truly elite of the sport.
And Allen, who learned his craft at Dynamo Fight Sports in Felixstowe and BKK Fighters in Colchester before heading to the famed Tristar Gym in Montreal, is taking nothing for granted heading into the biggest fight of his career so far.
“He’s a tough lad,” he said of Melendez. “He’s hinted at retirement and I’m sure he wants to retire on a high.
“I’m always excited to fight and to get on a Vegas card has always been one of my goals, so it’ll be great to cross that off.”
When it was put to him that he may have the advantage on the ground and in the grappling exchanges in what many fans are already tipping as a nailed-on fight of the night, Allen – who’s already won two performance of the night bonuses in his UFC career – said: “I try not to focus on one particular area with MMA, I’m going to be prepared for every scenario.
“Bonuses are always nice, but I never go out there with it on my mind – the first thing is to get the win.
“I’ve always planned to be where I’m at and I’ve worked my butt off to get here – but I’m still nowhere near where I want to be.”