Inside the head of ep01: Arnold ‘Almighty’ Allen

Arnold Allen. This young prospect of 21 who’s made his UFC debut this week-end at UFC Fight Night 69 in Berlin, made quite an impression as he submitted the solid Alan Omer in the 3rd round and took the Performance of the Night bonus. Coming into this fight as a last-minute replacement, he replaced Mike Wilkinson who got injured a week before the fight. 7 years ago, he started training MMA with Marc Nixon at Dynamo Fight Sports. Now, the young Brit moves to 10-1 with the third submission win of his career. Before that, he was struggling to find an opponent on the regional circuit as several fighters refused to fight him. This opportunity was expected, and he came in with a lot of hype from Medias & fans.
Now 3-0 since his first and only loss; he’s considered a future contender.

Let’s get to know him better by being in head for a couple of minutes.

360-mma.com: During Media day, you told me you expected the call from the UFC. That said, even if you expected it, it’s something pretty big; the UFC calls and asks you to fight a few days later ? What is going through your mind when you get that call ? What do you think about the next 10-15 minutes ?

Arnold Allen: With cage warriors not having a show so far this year, myself and many other fighters were struggling to get a fight, very frustrating when you’re trying to get one and everyone says no. When I got the call I was excited and relieved as I was getting worried the call wasn’t going to come, but after 10 minutes I switched on and it was all business.. « Fight week » !

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Arnold Allen interviewed during Media Day (pic: Hicham B)

At the same moment, you know who you are fighting against. Did you already know Alan Omer ? Do you usually analyze your opponents before a fight, watch his fights, etc. ?
I don’t usually study all of my opponents; I tend to focus on myself but at this level it is essential to study them, I had already been studying the fighters on the card beforehand so I had a good idea of everyone.

Now, it’s time to come to Berlin. You also told me you take good care of your diet so you can always be ready for short-notice fights. Was this time any different or you had a very easy weight cut ? I was eating real clean before the fight just in case I was called last minute, all except a week of bad food post fight i’ll be back to eating good real soon.

Everything went quick for Arnold, and a UFC fighter has a lot of things to do during Fight Week. It’s really fortunate that he was ready beforehand because, as a fighter, you need to sign hundreds of posters, have call conferences, photo & video shoots, interviews, go to the Media day, and all this while meeting fans and cutting weight. With such a short notice, it’s a lot to carry; but the mature young guy did everything right, helped by his team.

 

Fight week. You have a lot of things to do; is that exhausting, or fun ? Did you expect to have so many things to do going into your first UFC Fight ?
It was a lot more stressful being such short notice; I had to get medicals booked as soon as possible, I literally had to rush around up and down England to get the all clear to fight, but once I was in Berlin it was all stress-free and relaxed.

Allens coach ITW

Sean Carter with 360-mma.com (pic: Hicham B)


I’m talking a lot about this Media Day. So, let’s continue: the UFC Media Day is, I guess, way bigger than in any other organization. You have a lot of hype behind you, most media knew who you are and were waiting for you. How does it feel to have so many interviewers coming to you ? Did you feel comfortable in front of all these cameras ?
It was an amazing feeling I expected to be sat alone during media day, I don’t know if you’ve seen my early interviews they’re quite the opposite: I used to mumble my way through, I think Sean carter is the reason I had to be confident in front of the camera (laughs).

Weigh-in. You cut your weight. Then, you have to step on the scale in front of a room full of media and fans. Is that intimidating ? Then, the face off: your opponent comes close to you, get in position and looks into your eyes. What is going through your mind at that exact moment. Is there any kind of excitement, adrenaline rush ?

Not at all, it’s great to finally get weighed in and be able to eat and drink. During the face off, I was just excited to get to my water bottle !

Now, you have something like 26 hours until your fight. What do you do after the weigh in ? Eat, relax in your room or go for a walk in Berlin ? Are you thinking about the fight non-stop or trying to think about anything else ? Did you sleep well after that ?
I went and took my team for dinner and watched a film, eating a lot of fruits. I don’t think about the fight until I go to bed and can’t sleep as I’m too excited like a kid at Christmas.

How is the atmosphere between the fighters behind the scene ? When you are waiting all together in a room to go to the Media day, or before the weigh in. Do you run into your opponent often during the Fight Week ? Is it awkward ?
The atmosphere is calm and I do bump into my opponent a lot but it’s not awkward at all. We are professionals and it’s what we do, there is no animosity before or after the fight; it’s strictly business.

 

Arnold looked indeed really calm and confident during Media day and at the weigh in. As a fan, I could tell he felt prepared, relaxed and ready to go. You could feel the excitement of the UFC’s newcomer, wanting to showcase his skills in the cage. Some people wonder why the UFC makes such a big deal out of the weigh in, why it is an event itself. I can tell it excites both the fighters and the fans to be 24 hours later. It makes you want to watch the fights even more, as much as it makes the athletes want to compete even more.

 

Fight day. When do you arrive at the arena ? Does the UFC give you an exact time for your fight or is it an estimation. How do you warm up, do you watch the fight ? When somebody gets knock out, like Antonio Dos Santos, or Sasaki, do you feel a kind of pressure or something like that ?

To be honest I don’t remember but I think there was an eta. I got at the arena about 3pm and I had to do my pee tests and I chilled out afterwards, until I had to warm up. My warm ups are really relaxed and yeah I watch the other fights. But it doesn’t make me feel anything, I just watch like a fan.

Check-hook from Allen against Omer

Now, it’s your time. Your music starts and you have to make the classic walkout. What are you thinking about during that walkout ?
I was thinking about winning and laughing about people who were shouting abuse at me; saying I was going to lose and saying I was going to die. (laughs) Lovely fans !

 

When you entered the cage, I remember you stayed at the door for 2 or 3 seconds, closed your eyes and had a little smile on your face. I think this will be difficult for you to describe that moment, but can you give it a try ? I felt like you were thinking « ah. Finally ! »
That’s exactly how I felt. It was an amazing feeling to have finally made that walk and to be stood in the octagon. I felt like that moment was the start of something great.

 

And it was. The fight was fun, especially the first round with a lot of striking actions, crisp striking. The second round wasn’t action-packed but we got to see some great grappling skills from Alan Omer who worked hard to take Almighty down, and some battles for positions. The third round was simply spectacular. A very important moment in a career that 8.000 fans witnessed live. Let’s go through this amazing moment for Arnold.

As the underdog, you were first to enter the cage. You have to wait 2 minutes before Alan gets in. What’s in your head for these 2 minutes ? Once there, Andy Friedlander introduces you. Are you listening to him ? Or you’re already in your fight ? And finally, the ref says « start », what went through your mind at that exact moment ?
In that time all I’m thinking is how I’m going to beat my opponent and listening to my corners advice. when Andy announced me I didn’t expect much of a reception from the crowd, but I was ready to go and it just felt like any other fight. Go.

Arnold Allen Contre Alan Omer
First round. A close one. You go back to your corner. How do you feel ? You feel like you will win this fight, or you just don’t know ? What about the break after the second ?
I felt like I won the first round so I was confident I was going to win the fight. I definitely lost the second but I felt like it was all on the 3rd round so I had to go for it.

He wants to take you down. After 40 seconds, he partially succeeds. You are on your ass, back against the fence and I remember watching your face and, in my opinion, it was going like « fuck. Not that way. » I might be wrong, but you weren’t happy at all, right ? What were you thinking at that precise moment ?
I was thinking getting off my ass and winning this fight.

And it worked. Strong mental; a lot of fighters would have felt helpless, having a professional on top of them, having already 10 minutes of intense effort in them. Not every athlete is able to come back from it; get back on the feet and go for the finish. Arnold, who lives for this sport as he studies and coaches MMA, looked very experienced from that moment; a very little opportunity to finish Alan Omer was more than enough for him.

 

You get back to your feet, he goes for a takedown, leaving his neck open. You grab it. Did you already know the fight was over, can you recall what were your thoughts when you were squeezing his neck ?
As soon as my arm was across his neck I knew the fight was over. I was just thinking « SQUEEEEEEEZE ».

He taps out. You don’t even wait for the referee to seperate you and celebrate. Now is the very interesting part. What is going through your mind at that moment; you won your first UFC fight, at 21.
I was so happy to win my UFC debut under all the circumstances.

What happens after the fight ? A great event: 11 fights, 8 finishes. During the post-fight conference, it is told that you get the Performance of the night bonus. Were you expecting it ? What is the feeling you get when you’re 50k$ richer in a split second ?
I went to see my brother and my dad and few friends, but I did expect it to be honest, under the conditions I won the fight and the level of opponent, and I don’t think it has sunk in yet (laughs)


Let’s all look forward to watching him again. With Conor McGregor and Joanna Jedrzejczyk, European fighters get a lot more attention, and now, with Arnold, Makwan Amirkhani, Taylor Lapilus, Scott Askham who also won this week-end, or even other newcomers such as Steve Ray and Joseph Duffy, MMA will grow in Europe. Good thing !

« I AM ARNOLD. I like my food and my dog Trafford. And I like to party ! »



Catégories :Inside the head of

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