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'I'll have the advantage everywhere' - Allen going out to stop icon Melendez in Las Vegas

PUBLISHED: 12:55 04 July 2019 | UPDATED: 22:36 04 July 2019

Suffolk's Arnold Allen, right, fights legend Gilbert Melendez in Las Vegas at UFC 239 this weekend. Picture: PA SPORT

Suffolk's Arnold Allen, right, fights legend Gilbert Melendez in Las Vegas at UFC 239 this weekend. Picture: PA SPORT

PA Wire/PA Images

Ipswich MMA star Arnold Allen faces the biggest fight of his life against legend Gilbert Melendez in Las Vegas this weekend - and is expecting to have the advantage 'everywhere' in the clash.

Arnold Allen was superb in his last fight, a dominant points win over Jordan Rinaldi at UFC London in March. Picture: PA SPORTArnold Allen was superb in his last fight, a dominant points win over Jordan Rinaldi at UFC London in March. Picture: PA SPORT

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 - the biggest mixed martial arts event of the year.

It's the first ever fight in America for Allen, 25, who's currently riding a five-fight winning streak in the division - second only to long-reigning champion Max Holloway.

MORE: 'With the right game plan, he's the best' - Mason's praise for Allen

And, if the Trimley St Mary southpaw can beat icon Melendez, a former UFC title challenger and Strikeforce and WEC champion, it could rocket his career and popularity to the next level.

"This is what I've been working my whole career for," said Allen, who learned his craft in Felixstowe and Colchester before heading out to his current base at the world-famous Tristar Gym in Montreal. "It's a big opportunity.

MORE: Allen dominates Rinaldi at UFC London

"I watched Gilbert fight growing up, and I've always liked watching his fights - not that I was a massive fan, but obviously he's a big name in the sport.

"That said, I don't think it will be odd fighting him at all - whenever I fight anyone I watch their fights beforehand, so that's nothing different.

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

MORE: UFC legend Hardy tips Allen to be future UFC champion

"He's a tough opponent, you can't doubt that - he's aggressive and he's coming in to win, he's not just going to lie down for me.

"I'll have to bring my A-game, and that's what I plan on doing."

The battle, which will serve as the featured prelim of the event, is many fans' pick for a fight of the night contender. Previous form would suggest that, while Melendez enjoys a stand-up war, Allen could expect to have an advantage in the grappling and ground game.

Arnold Allen enters the octagon ahead of his career-best performance at UFC London. Picture: BRETT KINGArnold Allen enters the octagon ahead of his career-best performance at UFC London. Picture: BRETT KING

But 'Almighty' said: "I think I'll have the advantage everywhere, to be honest. I always feel like that - that's how we train at Tristar.

"I'm going to win, and I'll definitely be trying to stop him - he's as tough as they come, so if I can do that it would be a big statement.

"Then I better be in the top 15 (world rankings) - I thought I'd be in there after my last win (over Jordan Rinaldi at UFC London in March) to be honest with you. They're holding out on me!"

MORE: Allen hopes to bring UFC to Ipswich one day

Allen's parents, Jasmine and Pacer, are out in Vegas with him, with his dad - a bodybuilder and former fighter himself - set to be in his corner again, something which the Suffolk fighter feels helps him.

"It's nice to have them over here - it's a pain in the arse, but it's good!" he joked. "I like having dad in my corner, going back to my amateur fights he was there, so it feels right."

MORE: Allen on his goals for 2019

His fight is on the same day that Ipswich Town kick off their pre-season schedule over in Germany, and Town fan Allen hopes his victory will be a good omen for the Blues' season.

Suffolk's Arnold Allen celebrates his win over Jordan Rinaldi at UFC London. Picture: BRETT KINGSuffolk's Arnold Allen celebrates his win over Jordan Rinaldi at UFC London. Picture: BRETT KING

"I hope it's a boost going into a season where they go back up," he said. "I definitely plan to get to a game when I'm back in Suffolk - it would be crazy one day to get out on the pitch and salute the fans."

- UFC® 239: JONES vs. SANTOS coverage starts live on UFC FIGHT PASS, BT Sport 1 and BT Sport Box Office this Saturday at 11.15pm and continues exclusively live on BT Sport Box Office at 3am.

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