'He's a really tough test, but that's going to bring out the best in me' - Allen on UFC 239 fight with legend Melendez
PUBLISHED: 15:08 24 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:08 24 May 2019
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Suffolk's Arnold Allen believes fighting MMA legend Gilbert Melendez in Las Vegas will bring out the best in him - and take his career to the next level.
Allen (14-1 MMA, 5-0 UFC) will go to war with Melendez (22-7, 1-5 UFC) in a featherweight fight at the T-Mobile Arena at UFC 239 on Saturday, July 6 - the biggest mixed martial arts event of the year.
With a five-fight unbeaten streak in the 145lbs division, Trimley St Mary's Allen is second only to long-reigning champion Max Holloway.
But he's lacked a 'big name' win on his resume so far - and Melendez could certainly be that, victory potentially rocketing Allen to new heights in the way that Liverpool's Darren Till enjoyed after stopping superstar Donald Cerrone.
Though Melendez last fought in September 2017, and has struggled in the UFC, he remains a big test for Allen - he's 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.
Allen said: "I'm really happy for this opportunity - it's exactly what I've been working for, for a very long time.
"He's a really tough test, but I believe that's going to bring out the best in me."
When asked if this will be the fight which propels him into the mind of the casual fan and really makes his name, Allen added: "I believe so - with a good performance then definitely!
"I'd like to thank Stone Sports Management for making this happen and helping me achieve my dreams from day one."
The fight is a real crossroads duel between the surging Allen and the sliding Melendez - indeed another loss could even drive the latter into retirement.
Speaking to MMA Junkie, he said: "I think it's important for me to succeed in my next fight. It will be hard to go on if I don't succeed. I really have to deliver. Even if I did come out with a victory, and I'm not happy with my performance, I'd probably have to consider everything.
"I need to succeed in this fight. If I do, that journey may continue. But if I don't succeed, I can't say forever-ever, but it's definitely going to be time to step back for a long time."
- UFC 239 will be headlined by a light heavyweight title fight between champion Jon Jones and challenger Thiago Santos. It will be shown live on BT Sport.