UFC London: Arnold Allen vs. Makwan Amirkhani – Featherweight’s Future?
This Saturday night at the O2 Arena, the UFC main card will kick off with a clash of two Featherweights undefeated inside the octagon, when England’s own Arnold Allen takes on charismatic Finn Makwan Amirkhani. However, their undefeated UFC records aren’t the only thing they have in common, in fact neither has fought in over a year which has stunted their somewhat surging momentum.
Nonetheless, they’re back now and meet each other Saturday in an intriguing bout, even if not a marquee one. To really understand the appeal though, you have to revisit their short but quite impressive UFC careers thus far.
It was January 2015 when Amirkhani first entered the octagon as he took on struggling veteran Andy Ogle. On that night ‘Mr Finland’ would shine, coming out with a flying knee immediately and closing the show after just eight frenetic seconds. As far as UFC debuts go, few have went better than this and Amirkhani’s personality shined both before and after the brief combat. It seemed a star had been born and Amirkhani’s next showing would only further that belief. Fighting Masio Fullen, Amirkhani secured the takedown instantly and quickly ended proceedings with a rear naked choke. After a combined 110 seconds inside the octagon, Amirkhani had secured two very quick and impressive victories.
On that same night, just two fights prior Arnold Allen had made his UFC debut. Stepping in on under a week’s notice, Allen took Alan Omer on at just 21 years of age. Allen did have ten fights under his belt but still seemed to be unprepared for the huge opportunity and its unfortunate timing. It was clear early on fight night though that Allen certainly wasn’t out of his depth as he showed a well-rounded game in competing with his more experienced opponent. For all of the positives though, Allen did seem to be down on the cards heading into the third. However, those cards would soon be rendered irrelevant when Allen snatched Omer’s neck and dramatically finished the fight with a guillotine choke.
It had been a spectacular win for Allen in his UFC debut and eyes were immediately drawn to the young Englishman, especially considering his relative inexperience. It would be eight months later when both fighters next entered the octagon, sharing spots on the last UFC London event in February 2016. On that night Allen would take on Yaotzin Meza in a quite frustrating affair. Allen was unable to secure the finish against the somewhat defensively minded Meza but did land a knockdown late and ended up the comfortable decision winner. Amirkhani’s experience that night wouldn’t be too dissimilar, as he dominated Mike Wilkinson on the ground but couldn’t close the show, instead winning a clear decision just like Allen.
Over a year later and injuries have kept both men out of the cage since that night but now they try to revitalize their forward momentum, fighting each other in London. Whilst Amirkhani certainly garnered more attention than Allen beforehand, most agreed that both seemed set to play a role in Featherweight’s future. Amirkhani’s polish and flash caught the eye, as did Allen’s youth and natural ability but regardless of the fact both seem to be future players at 145lbs, a win here could be pivotal in jumping into the top 15 rankings right now. It’s a clash of two men that had the MMA world talking not so long ago, now the question is can they get everyone talking once again?
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