Watch: Suffolk UFC star Allen on his goals for 2019, his dream fight and when he plans to be champion
Suffolk's rising UFC star Arnold Allen has his sights set on the biggest year of his career in 2019 - one in which he hopes to break into the world's top ten rankings and make his long-awaited American debut.
The 24-year-old (4-0 UFC, 13-1 MMA) was set to face legend of the sport Gilbert Melendez in Las Vegas last month, but injuries meant that first Melendez dropped out and then Allen himself was forced to pull out of a fight against replacement Rick Glenn with a cut eye.
It’s the latest in a frustrating series of injuries and cancelled fights for Trimley St Mary’s Allen, who has fought just once a year since making his debut in the world-famous UFC with a submission win over Alan Omer in Germany in June 2015.
But the Suffolk southpaw, tipped as a future UFC featherweight champion by British legend Dan Hardy, fully intends to make up for lost time next year.
When asked about what he would consider a successful 2019, he said: “Top 10 (ranking). I want to fight in the US. I love fighting in England, don’t get me wrong, but it’s become kind of like a rolling joke now – I fight once a year, every UK card!
“It would be nice to break that routine, get out of England and Europe and fight in the US and make my name, put my name out there.”
He added: “I want three or four fights at least, and three or four wins. I want to get a new contract. I have three fights left on a four-fight deal, so it would be nice to get to the next tier with another three wins.”
Allen, who flew back to Montreal earlier this week to get back to full-time training at the renowned TriStar Gym, is hoping to get a fight early in 2019 – and still hasn’t given up on facing MMA icon Melendez at some point.
“It was a huge opportunity for me,” he said of the cancelled fight. “That’s the kind of fight I want at this point in my career, a veteran, someone who’s an ex-champ and a big name – it’s what I’ve been wanting for a while, Vegas, all that stuff so hopefully we get it again but I haven’t just got my eyes set on him, although it would be cool.
“There’s nothing lined up as yet. I’m not cleared just yet, so once the doctors clear it (eye injury) hopefully we’ll get something matched up quick. We’ve been training all the time, keeping extra fit, keeping ready so as soon as it’s ready, I’m ready.”
Allen, who started his martial arts training with the respected Mark Nixon in Felixstowe before heading to BKK Fighters in Colchester, also revealed his dream match-up.
“Jose Aldo,” he said. “I really liked Aldo coming up so that would be cool to fight someone that you came up watching, and especially to beat him would be even cooler.”
The driven Allen also has a timeline for lifting the UFC title. He said: “I’m 24 now, 25 in January, so I’d like it to be much before I’m 30.
“I don’t want to be fighting forever, I started boxing when I was like 13, 14, so I’ve been getting hit in the head for a long time, and I don’t want to be getting hit in the head when I’m 40.
“Before I’m 30 – 28 would be cool, so the next four years.”