I want to fight the best – Allen calls out Barboza after Stephens drops out

Suffolk’s UFC star Arnold Allen has seen another ranked opponent pull out of a fight with him at late notice – so he’s called out one of the most feared strikers in the sport.

Arnold Allen, right, is unbeaten in the UFC Picture: PA SPORT

Arnold Allen, right, is unbeaten in the UFC Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Allen (16-1 MMA, 7-0 UFC) was due to meet the all-action Jeremy Stephens in Las Vegas a week today, in a battle of the eighth and ninth-ranked featherweights in the world. But Stephens, like Josh Emmett before him, has pulled out through injury, leaving Allen in a frustrating limbo. Back in January, he accepted a fight with late replacement Nik Lentz after Emmett droppd out, and duly sent the respected veteran packing, bruised and beaten at the Suffolk southpaw’s hands.

The 34-year-old, currently ranked 14th in the featherweight division, has faced a who’s who of the sport’s best, including Khabib Nurmagomedov, Justin Gaethje, Tony Ferguson and Donald Cerrone.

Arnold Allen is one of the best featherweights on the planet Picture: PA SPORT

Arnold Allen is one of the best featherweights on the planet Picture: PA SPORT - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Allen told me: “It’s obviously frustrating to have another fight fall through at short notice. “The UFC offered me a late replacement, but my team and I felt that it wouldn’t move me forward. I’m the eighth-ranked featherweight in the world, and I want to fight the best. Edson Barboza is one of the best fighters on the planet, he’s been in with the best and it would be an honour to test myself against him. It would be a great fight for the fans too - so let’s make it happen!”

Back in June, Allen said: “I don’t think people realise how good I am. I’ve got some good names on my record, but I guess some people say I’ve not fought anyone yet. I know if I talked more or I’d stopped all seven of my wins, I’d be right up at the top of the rankings.

“I’ve always said that when I get to a position where I can start calling people out I will, so you might start seeing me change a little bit – I’m not going to start being an arsehole, but I think I’ve earned the right to do that now. I think if I win my next three fights, I’d have to be right up there for a title shot. Or if I get two straight finishes, I can’t see why I wouldn’t be next in line.”