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Suffolk's Allen to face legend Melendez at biggest UFC event of the year in Las Vegas

PUBLISHED: 21:15 08 May 2019 | UPDATED: 21:25 08 May 2019

Suffolk's Arnold Allen, right, will fight legend of the sport Gilbert Melendez at UFC 239 in Las Vegas on July 6. Picture: UFC/TWITTER

Suffolk's Arnold Allen, right, will fight legend of the sport Gilbert Melendez at UFC 239 in Las Vegas on July 6. Picture: UFC/TWITTER

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Suffolk's Arnold Allen is set for the biggest fight of his life against legend Gilbert Melendez in the year's most high-profile UFC event in Las Vegas.

Arnold Allen (right) absorbs a punch from Jordan Rinaldi during their fight at UFC London - one of the few times that Rinaldi managed to make meaningful contact with the Suffolk southpaw! Picture: PA SPORTArnold Allen (right) absorbs a punch from Jordan Rinaldi during their fight at UFC London - one of the few times that Rinaldi managed to make meaningful contact with the Suffolk southpaw! Picture: PA SPORT

Allen (14-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) will do battle with icon of the sport Melendez (22-7, 1-5 UFC) in a featherweight fight at UFC 239 on Saturday, July 6 - the culmination of international fight week, the biggest week of the year for mixed martial arts.

The duo were originally set to throw hands at the Ultimate Fighter 28 finale last November, but Melendez pulled out of the fight with an injury.

Trimley St Mary's Allen then put on a career-best performance in his last showing at UFC London in March, totally outclassing the tough Jordan Rinaldi on his way to a shutout points win.

MORE: Allen dominates Rinaldi at UFC London

With a five-fight unbeaten streak in the 145lbs division, Allen is second only to long-reigning champion Max Holloway.

The Melendez fight is a huge opportunity for him to notch a win over a big name fighter and announce himself on the world stage, but also a stern test - Melendez 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.

Before their first fight was cancelled, Allen said: "He's a tough lad. 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."

Arnold Allen is 5-0 in the UFC, the second-best winning streak in the entire featherweight division. Picture: PA SPORTArnold Allen is 5-0 in the UFC, the second-best winning streak in the entire featherweight division. Picture: PA SPORT

MORE: 'With the right gameplan, he's the best'- Mason backs Allen to be champ

When it was put to him that he may have the advantage on the ground and in the grappling exchanges in what many fans were 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.

Arnold Allen has been tipped as a future UFC featherweight champion. Picture: GETTY IMAGESArnold Allen has been tipped as a future UFC featherweight champion. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

"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."

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