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Brendan Allen reacts after defeating Karl Roberson by submission in their middleweight bout during the UFC 261 event at VyStar Veterans Memorial Arena on April 24, 2021 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Josh Hedges/Zuffa LLC)

Brendan Allen Is Done Wasting Time

After Dealing With Some Ups And Downs, Brendan Allen Believes The Time Is Right To Make His Run.

Unbeknownst to anyone but his family, Brendan Allen walked to the Octagon for his clash with Karl Roberson in April with a self-assigned ultimatum hovering over his head.

“Before the last one, I told my family — and I didn’t tell anyone else — ‘If I don’t feel like I used to feel after a win, I won’t fight any more,’” the talented 25-year-old middleweight said, reflecting on the challenge he’d put in front of himself prior to his last fight.

If you’ve ever talked to the focused, ambitious Allen, you’d know putting himself to a “love it or leave it” decision wasn’t something he did flippantly, because hasty decisions and going back on his word aren’t part of his makeup.

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Preparing for a fight means leaving his wife and daughter (and soon a second child) for extended trips to South Florida, and throughout his career, the former LFA standout and current middleweight hopeful has spoken openly about not wanting to overstay his welcome or continue to compete if he doesn’t feel like he’s performing to the full extent of his capabilities. He takes losses hard and is beyond frustrated by those few occasions that he’s turned up for work and just not had it when the bell rang, and he prepared for Roberson with all of that weight resting on his shoulders after suffering a second-round stoppage loss to Sean Strickland in the middle of November.

“I was only at 40-50 percent for whatever reason,” he said of the fight with Strickland, which came together on short notice after a bout between Allen and Ian Heinisch was scrapped for the second time. “I don’t know what happened, I don’t know what it was — I felt like a million bucks the night before the fight, but come warmups, everything just went to hell in a hand basket.

Brendan Allen Believes It's Time To Make His Run | UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs Dillashaw
Brendan Allen Believes It's Time To Make His Run | UFC Fight Night: Sandhagen vs Dillashaw

“It was a learning experience and I’ll see him again soon, and the results will not be even close to the same.”

But that off-night at the office lingered with him as he readied for Roberson, leading to his personal promise to walk away if getting his hand raised didn’t fill him with the same joy, the same sense of accomplishment that it had in the past.

Late in the first round, after controlling the action throughout, Allen clamped onto an ankle lock and secured the submission finish. When he stood in the center of the Octagon and had his arm raised by referee Dan Miragliotta, everything felt right.

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“I still felt the same feeling,” said Allen, who returns to face Punahele Soriano on Saturday evening in Las Vegas. “The same rush, the same emotions, if not greater than before.”

Re-energized and back in the win column, the Louisiana native is ready to turn that revitalizing victory into the start of a winning streak, one that continues with another triumph this weekend when he takes on the undefeated Soriano.

Both fighters earned their UFC contracts with victories on Season 3 of the Contender Series — Soriano in Week 1, Allen in Week 4 — but that is the lone common thread between them.

Allen’s vast experience on the regional circuit and status as a highly regarded prospect earned him immediate entry into the middle tier in the 185-pound weight class, while his Hawaiian opponent was brought along at a slower pace, having reached the biggest stage in the sport with just six professional appearances to his name.

Though Allen won his first three appearances prior to last winter’s loss to Strickland, including finishes of Kevin Holland and Tom Breese, he’s largely been overlooked when listing off the top emerging talents in the division. Conversely, a pair of first-round stoppage victories have given Soriano a ton of momentum and hype, as well as the opportunity to make this sizable step up in competition this weekend, none of which sits well with Allen.

“I want to take his ‘0’ because if I can’t have an ‘0,’ no one else can have one either,” the Sanford MMA product offered, referencing Soriano’s unblemished 8-0 record. “I’m trying to take everyone’s ‘0,’ but even more than his ‘0,’ I’m trying to take his hype away.

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“I feel like I never really had that kind of hype and I feel like I’m better than all these guys, so if I can’t get it, they can’t get it either. And if they have some, I’m going to take it.”

And the timing is right for Allen to become “The Hype Collector” and start making a move towards the Top 15 and higher.

His training camp for the fight with Roberson was his first full camp working with the crew at Sanford MMA, including coaches Henri Hooft, Greg Jones, and Kami Barzini, and an expansive collection of middleweight training partners for Allen.

Brendan Allen Earns Straight Ankle Lock Finish | UFC 261
Brendan Allen Earns Straight Ankle Lock Finish | UFC 261

After spending a number of years making the trek to Roufusport in Milwaukee, a former teammate, Jared Gordon, suggested Allen test-drive things at the Deerfield Beach, Florida facility. He went down to prepare for his bout with Strickland, loved it, and decided to make a permanent change.

Now through his second full camp and getting more familiar with his coaches and teammates, the 25-year-old believes the best is yet to come.

“The coaches know me more,” began Allen, who carries a 16-4 record into his clash with Soriano on Saturday. “They understand how I train now, how I fight, what works for me, and we’re continuing to grow together and learn things about each other.

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“I feel like that understanding and figuring out how to connect, the bond we’re forging, are huge. It took a while — and it’s what I had at Roufusport, as well — but I feel that’s where we’re at now, where I know the key terms, they know me, and I know them.

“I feel like we have that connection now.”

That burgeoning connection resulted in the most symmetry between what he practiced in the gym and how he performed in the Octagon last time out according to Allen, and he’s keen on replicating it this weekend and into the future.

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“It was the first time in all my fights that I’ve actually fought how I trained,” he said, still slightly surprised at how well he was able to transfer his work in camp to his performance on fight night. “It took 33 fights to happen, but it finally happened, and I’m happy with that.

“If I can match that feeling again, perform that way again, I feel like it’s my time to make a run,” he added with an eye towards the future. “After this one, I’ll have fought down twice, defended my spot, and hopefully I can get a big name and get someone in the Top 10.

“I don’t want to waste any time; I want to get right to it.”