Allen gets his next UFC assignment - and it’s a top ten legend of the sport
- Credit: PA Wire/PA Images
Suffolk’s MMA superstar Arnold Allen called for a fight with all-action icon Jeremy Stephens back in June – and he’s got it.
Trimley St Martin’s Allen (16-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) will square off with the heavy-handed tornado of violence Stephens (28-19 MMA, 15-17 UFC) in Las Vegas on November 7 at UFC Fight Night 182.
It is the perfect fight for the Suffolk southpaw, who owns the longest win streak in the featherweight division, to take another step up the ladder - he’s currently ranked eighth in the world, with Stephens a notch below at nine.
‘Lil Heathen’ Stephens is in many ways a gatekeeper to the world’s best - although he’s on a four-fight losing streak, he’s hugely respected, always in exciting fights, and boasts wins over the likes of Renan Barao, Gilbert Melendez and Josh Emmett.
Indeed, Stephens only loses to the elite - so this fight will be a perfect yardstick as to just how good Allen is.
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The 26-year-old, who beat renowned veteran Nik Lentz back in January, has been tipped as a future UFC champion by British MMA legend Dan Hardy, and is incredibly well-rounded - his boxing background means he can pick foes apart on the feet, he’s comfortable in grappling exchanges, boasts two submission wins in the UFC and can throw down in a war too.
Speaking to us about Stephens in June, Allen said: “That would be the perfect fight for me at this point. Not that I want to pick and choose my fights, but because everyone knows who he is and he’s kind of a gatekeeper.
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“He’s fought everyone and picked up some huge wins, and everyone who beats him goes onto big things.
“I think I’d pick him apart, like I would most people in the division, but it would be a fun fight for the fans – whereas most of my fights have been against people who just want to take me down or stall.”
He added: “I don’t think people realise how good I am. I’ve got some good names on my record, but I guess some people say I’ve not fought anyone yet. I know if I talked more or I’d stopped all seven of my wins, I’d be right up at the top of the rankings.
“I’ve always said that when I get to a position where I can start calling people out I will, so you might start seeing me change a little bit – I’m not going to start being an arsehole, but I think I’ve earned the right to do that now.
“I think if I win my next three fights, I’d have to be right up there for a title shot. Or if I get two straight finishes, I can’t see why I wouldn’t be next in line.
“Knock out Stephens, maybe stop someone like (Brian) Ortega, how could I not get a shot?”
UFC Fight Night 182 is likely to be headlined by a top tier light heavyweight dispute between Thiago Santos and Glover Teixeira, but Allen v Stephens would seem to be in contention for the co-main event slot.