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Arnold Allen tipped to be a future UFC champion by MMA legend Dan Hardy

Arnold Allen faces Mads Burnell at UFC Liverpool this Sunday. Picture: ADAM DAVY/EMPICS SPORT

Arnold Allen faces Mads Burnell at UFC Liverpool this Sunday. Picture: ADAM DAVY/EMPICS SPORT

EMPICS Sport

Ipswich MMA prodigy Arnold Allen has been tipped to be 'one of the pioneers of the sport' by UK fighting legend Dan Hardy.

Arnold Allen, right, is unbeaten in the UFC. Picture: JOSH HEDGES/ZUFFA LLCArnold Allen, right, is unbeaten in the UFC. Picture: JOSH HEDGES/ZUFFA LLC

Allen bids to improve his record in the world-famous octagon to 4-0 against battle-hardened Dane Mads Burnell at UFC Liverpool this weekend and Hardy, the first Brit to ever fight for a UFC title, believes that the Suffolk scrapper can be the future of the fast-growing sport.

- MORE: Allen planning to call someone out after fight with Burnell

Of the 24-year-old, who hails from Trimley St Mary, Hardy said: “The first thing that stands out about Arnold Allen is that he has the genetics of an athlete.

“You look at his dad (former strongman and fighter Pacer) and his siblings (brother Jake is a strength athlete) and they are great athletes.

Dan Hardy, right, with Georges St Pierre before their UFC title fight - Hardy sees a lot of similarities between GSP and Suffolk's Arnold Allen. Picture: AP/MARY ALTAFFERDan Hardy, right, with Georges St Pierre before their UFC title fight - Hardy sees a lot of similarities between GSP and Suffolk's Arnold Allen. Picture: AP/MARY ALTAFFER

“Coupled with that, he’s got the work ethic that you don’t see with some of the people with those attributes – he’s happy to travel the world working on his skills and getting better.

“And he’s got the grit and willingness to fight out of bad positions, as we saw in his last fight against Makwan Amirkhani.

“So you’ve got three qualities there which are uncoachable, and Arnold has them in droves.

- MORE: Allen dreams of bringing UFC to Ipswich

Dan Hardy believes Arnold Allen is a future UFC champion. Picture: JOSH HEDGES/ZUFFA LLCDan Hardy believes Arnold Allen is a future UFC champion. Picture: JOSH HEDGES/ZUFFA LLC

“He’s going to be one of the pioneers of the sport one day – he’s only scratching the surface of his skills and potential so far.”

Hardy added: “One of the things which most impresses me about Arnold is his ability to chain things together – he’s one of the best examples of a hybrid fighter that we have in the sport.

“He’s not a specialist in any area, but he’s a true mixed martial artist.”

Indeed, Hardy sees a lot of similarities between featherweight Allen (12-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) and the legendary two-weight UFC champion Georges St Pierre, the man he faced for the UFC welterweight title back in 2010.

- MORE: Allen wins fighter of the year in 2017 Flying Knee awards

St Pierre, of course, is also the most famous pupil of Tristar Gym head coach Firas Zahabi – the same Montreal gym that Allen now calls home.

“There’s lots of different types of athletes,” Hardy explained. “You’ve got the likes of Conor McGregor and Darren Till (the Scouse superstar headlining UFC Liverpool) who can walk onto the stage and command it.

“Arnold’s not like that but I think he’s a lot like GSP in that he’s extremely driven and has that fantastic mindset. He’s like a sponge that’s going to continue to absorb skills and knowledge – very similar to GSP early in his career.”

Arnold Allen celebrates one of his three wins so far in the UFC. Picture: JOSH HEDGES/ZUFFA LLCArnold Allen celebrates one of his three wins so far in the UFC. Picture: JOSH HEDGES/ZUFFA LLC

- MORE: Young, talented and unbeaten in the UFC - but Arnold Allen’s still not satisfied

And Hardy, who will be calling the action live in Liverpool on Sunday, believes Allen could well end up with mirroring St Pierre in another way – with UFC gold wrapped around his waist.

“Most definitely,” he said, when asked if Allen could reach the top. “And if he does get to that belt, it’s going to be very hard for someone to take it off him.”

- UFC Liverpool will be live on BT Sport 1 on Sunday from 4pm. Allen will be on the main card, which starts at 6pm.

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