TORONTO – Arnold Allen is confident he’ll prove he’s among the top title contenders this Saturday – even though he’s not fighting a top-five opponent.
Allen (19-2 MMA, 10-1 UFC) takes on Movsar Evloev in the opening bout of the UFC 297 main card. The British fighter admits he wanted an opponent ranked higher than Evloev (17-0 MMA, 7-0 UFC), but he had problems getting the bigger names. Despite fighting down the rankings, Allen believes he’s in a much tougher fight.
“I think he’s a really good athlete, a really good fighter, highly skilled. Yeah, a dangerous opponent,” Allen said at the UFC 297 media day on Wednesday. “I can kind of relate to those feelings when I was coming up when I wanted to fight top guys and no one wanted to give up their rankings to fight someone below them. There are tougher fighters outside of that. Sometimes I look up, and I see someone ranked higher than me, and he’s an easier fight than this one. It’s very easy to be No. 3 and be like, ‘I’m only fighting No. 2 or 1. Everyone does that. It sucks.”
Allen hasn’t fought since April 2023 when his 12-fight unbeaten streak was snapped by a unanimous decision loss to former champion Max Holloway. If victorious over Evloev, Allen believes he’ll be back in the title picture at 145 pounds.
“I want to be world champion, and I think this is the fight that puts me back into the title picture,” Allen said. “After the Holloway fight, I was asking for Ortega. Same thing I was saying earlier, he was a fight I thought was easier than these guys down the line, and he was a higher-ranked guy, so it made sense. I don’t want easy matchups. This guy is tougher. He’s undefeated and wants to prove his own claim at a title, and I want to show I’m still there in that picture.”
For more on the card, visit MMA Junkie’s event hub for UFC 297.