Arnold Allen concedes there was no controversy in his loss to Max Holloway at UFC Kansas City because he already knew the outcome before the decision was read.
While he battled it out with Holloway for 25 minutes, the 29-year-old British featherweight expected the scorecards to go against him with no one to blame for the outcome but himself. After rewatching the fight, Allen believes he was closer to victory than he initially thought but he still believes Holloway deserved the win that night.
“It wasn’t as bad as I thought,” Allen said on The MMA Hour. “I didn’t feel like the winner after and I don’t now but it’s not as bad as I thought. A lot of people said I should be proud ‘oh he did five rounds and pushed the pace on Max.’ I’m not proud of myself. I expect a lot more from myself.
“He is who he is and he’s one of the best if not the best guy in the division of all time. He’s going to be a Hall of Famer, he’s great but that doesn’t make me feel any better because I expect more out of myself. It’s a little more frustrating because I know I could have done better. I should have done better.”
Just because Holloway has barely given away more than a couple of rounds during a nearly decade long unbeaten streak in non-title fights, Allen doesn’t feel like he deserves much credit just because he took the former featherweight king to a close decision.
As much as he appreciates the kind words from his supporters, Allen didn’t leave the octagon that night feeling better about himself just because he barely lost.
In his mind, Allen isn’t interested in a participation trophy for spending five rounds in the cage with Holloway because ultimately the result still went against him.
“There’s no victory,” Allen said. “I got half my pay, I lost my winning streak, I missed out on a title shot. There’s no moral victory.”
When it comes to the fight itself, Allen knows he had his moments but he also paid homage to Holloway and his coaches on surprising him with a strategy that he didn’t see coming.
Because Holloway is so well known for his volume striking and constant forward pressure, Allen expected that he’d be playing a counter fighter all night long but instead the roles were effectively reversed for the majority of the fight.
“The whole camp was based on someone coming forward with pressure and the first sort of exchange, he came out and backed up and stopped moving,” Allen explained. “It’s like huh, that’s not what we prepared for, in that sense.
“The only thing that surprised me is he just didn’t pressure so much. The whole game was the counter him coming forward and I was the one coming forward chasing him. Very good game plan by them. I don’t know if it’s lessons to learn. Things could be better.”
Afterwards, UFC president Dana White admonished Allen’s coaches for not instilling him with a greater sense of urgency in the later rounds, especially after he arguably had his best performance during the final five minutes in the cage.
Allen didn’t respond directly to White’s criticism but he acknowledged the mistakes he made in the fabled championship rounds when he could have potentially secured the victory with just a little more aggression.
“From the fourth round and fifth, if I could have stolen the fourth but then watching it back, it was closer than I thought,” Allen said. “I thought he won but the scorecards were a bit [off], I didn’t agree with that. A couple shots, maybe score a takedown or a bit more pressure in the fourth and the fifth would have probably won it.”
That said, Allen isn’t crying over spilled milk and he certainly doesn’t believe the judges got it wrong.
He’s mostly just upset that he didn’t do more to win and that’s the brutal nature of combat sports because now Allen will have to work twice as hard if he wants to earn another shot at Holloway in the future.
“Immediately after, I watch it back and you can see me going ‘f***’ [on camera],” Allen said. “It wasn’t necessarily thinking that I lost a decision, it was more whatever happened, I knew I should have done better. I felt I let myself down.”
As disappointing as it was to lose at UFC Kansas City with a potential title shot on the line, Allen is ready to move forward with his career and prove that his loss to Holloway was just a bad night at the office.
“It’s a positive in a way because I know I can do so much better,” Allen said. “He’s the five round cardio king. The first five rounder I’ve done, it was no problem. Preparation could have been better, maybe a bit smarter, a bit fitter. Body could have held up better in certain things but no excuses but things could have been better.
“There’s better to come. He said it after, maybe we’ll fight again. Max is a cool guy. He’s a legend.”