The 145-pound division has long been one of the UFC’s most talent-rich weight classes and that remains the case in 2020. What’s even more intriguing about the featherweight class at this moment, however, is that it’s currently wide open.
And one fighter who may benefit greatly from the division recently gaining new life is 26-year-old British prospect Arnold Allen, who has gained momentum and quietly put together quite a strong string of victories. To understand just why Allen has become a fighter to watch, however, let’s take a look back at the history of the featherweight division and where he currently fits into it.
After being promoted to UFC champion following the WEC-UFC merger in 2010, Jose Aldo, widely considered to be one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of all time, went on to defend the UFC featherweight title seven-straight times. For nearly four and a half years, the Brazilian served as the promotion’s first and only featherweight champion, taking out challenger after challenger.
Aldo’s reign of terror, however, came to a swift and brutal demise in 2015 when he was met by Conor McGregor, who, at the time, was a wrecking ball at 145 pounds. And not only did McGregor dethrone Aldo but he did it in just thirteen seconds, flooring him with a vicious left hand.
The Irish superstar never went on to defend his title, however. Instead, Aldo went on to claim an interim version of the title before once again being promoted to undisputed champion. His second reign was not as glorious as his first though, as he ended up surrendering the strap and dropping back-to-back defeats to Max Holloway.
In a similar fashion to Aldo during his first reign atop the division, Holloway ended up being quite a dominant titleholder, holding the belt for over two years and defending it three times. Recently, however, the Hawaiian suffered a decision defeat at the hands of Alexander Volkanovski this past December, once again opening the division up for new and exciting possibilities.
With Volaknovski, who holds a perfect 8-0 record in the UFC, now leading the charge, fresh matchups can be made and new contenders can begin to emerge and work their way towards a shot at gold.
With that being said, it’s now an interesting time to take a look at the featherweight division and attempt to pinpoint just which fighters may begin to make waves and separate themselves from the pack. And as previously mentioned, there’s one fighter who seems to be on that path, though he hasn’t necessarily been receiving much attention. That man is Arnold Allen.
Despite being only 26 years of age, Allen has quietly put together a highly impressive 16-1 professional record. Even more impressive is that he recently extended his UFC record to a perfect 7-0 with a win over veteran Nik Lentz last weekend in Raleigh, NC. That win gave the Brit the longest active winning streak in the 145-pound division.
Against Lentz, a tough and gritty opponent, Allen put on a noteworthy performance, using footwork and defense to ward off Lentz’s takedown attempts, while getting the better of the exchanges on the feet.
So, after stringing together victory after victory and recently outpointing a respected name, why has Allen flown under the radar? Perhaps it’s due to his previous inactivity during his UFC tenure. For instance, Allen fought just once in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. He has, however, since fought twice in 2019 and now once in 2020.
It could also be due to the fact that he’s been a relatively quiet fighter. Or, it could be that he hasn’t necessarily received the biggest push from the UFC. When he faced former Strikeforce champion Gilbert Melendez in 2019, Allen fought on the main card of a pay-per-view. Against Lentz, however, he was stuck on the prelims of a Fight Night card that wasn’t generating much buzz to begin with.
It is important to note though that Allen was originally scheduled to face top-10-ranked Josh Emmett in his last fight, which would have likely given him more exposure than his bout against Lentz did.
Regardless, the UFC should look to put a bit of promotional muscle behind the man known as “Almighty” Arnold Allen. Because if he keeps winning, one of the organization’s brightest weight classes could have a brand new contender on its hands.